Welcome to Monkey McGee Salsa & Sauce Company! We are the owners; Rick Kazdan and Sharon Pelecki. We started our company back in 2005 in Warrenville, Illinois as El Gringo Loco Mexican Fusion. After operating for many years as El Gringo Loco Micro Salsaria, we attended the largest spicy food show in the country in Texas in 2012. We won 1st Place for the entire salsa category against all of our competitors nationwide and we also won Best in Show. When the promoter mis-pronounced the name El Gringo Loco as we were announced, that was the final straw for people not understanding the name El Gringo Loco. We originally thought that it was very simple Spanish that everyone would understand to mean The Crazy American (Rick’s nickname in the Hispanic community because he’s fluent in Spanish), but it confused a lot of people and many though that we were distributors for a Mexican brand. When we returned from Texas, we decided to come up with names that let the public know that we are an American company, made in America. We split our salsas into one brand as Monkey McGee Salsa Company and our sauces into a different brand as Chef Kaz Signature Sauces. Sales went up exponentially! During the following years, people really started noticing our monkey character quite a bit. Adults and kids alike, everyone was loving our monkey! So, in 2019, we decided to just go with the monkey for our entire company as Monkey McGee Salsa & Sauce Company!
Sharon and Rick met in 2003 on Match.com (yes we’re dorks). Sharon grew up in Orland Park, Illinois. She went to Andrew High School and she found her passion in color guard. After high school, Sharon went to Lewis University and ended up with a Master’s Degree in Marketing and Finance. Rick grew up in Morton Grove, Illinois. He went to Niles North High School and found his passion in the restaurant business. After high school, Rick spent a brief time at Triton College and then much later in life ended up at The Culinary Institute of America where he became certified as a Culinary Foundations Trainer.
Sharon worked for many years for ComEd, the electric company and then later switched to marketing and ended up working for a pet company as part of a team that did branding for pet products called Wellmark International. Rick started in a tiny French restaurant called Café Pierre, then moved into full service Mexican dining with El Torito Mexican Restaurants for 12 years in management. Rick’s final restaurant chapter ended up at Chipotle Mexican Grill as District Manager when Chicago was just starting to get to know Chipotle. Rick and his team opened many, many Chipotles in Illinois. They helped to make Chipotle what it is today. Sharon has now worked for an Asian food company for many years, she loves it, so she does that Monday thru Friday while Rick runs the company and handles the farmer’s markets with his guys.
We have a very small team of very awesome people! Rick is our Executive Chef and CEO, Sharon is our CFO and takes care of paying the bills, booking our events and occasionally working at a show or market. Albert is our artist for all of our new monkey drawings, Erika is our graphic designer that puts our labels together, Mike is our label guy that prints our labels, Tim is our guy that oversees food production at the USDA factory where we make our products, Tina is our web designer that created this website and Brian & Adam are our Farmer’s Market guys that sample and sell our products.
We are a small team of great people that are dedicated to bringing you the best products imaginable with the best service in the industry!