During our review of The Vapor Chef eLiquids we had the opportunity to talk to the very busy Aras Azuolas, owner of The Vapor Chef, to get a little inside information into the minds of those behind the curtain. Below are the highlights of that interview. Make sure to check out the full review HERE.
Spinfuel: Welcome to the pages of Spinfuel eMagazine. This review and interview is our first with Vapor Chef. How long have you been in business?
TVC: We opened our virtual doors in January 2013.
Spinfuel: What, or who, inspired you to get into the eJuice business?
TVC: I thought I could offer some interesting and unique flavors to the community as well as a quality product.
Spinfuel: How long did it take to go from deciding to go into business to actually opening your virtual doors to the public?
TVC: About 4 months from the decision to the website going live.
Spinfuel: Can you remember the very first eLiquid “flavor” you developed that made you think, “Hey, we can do this”? What was that flavor and is it still in your lineup?
TVC: A flavor we don’t actually sell. It was good but not good enough. It was just me messing around with DIY and was the first flavor that made me say, “I can make really good eLiquid”
Spinfuel: Aras, I understand you come from a fine-dining background has a head chef. No doubt you understand ‘flavor’. Do you have a process that you can tell us about, a process you go through when developing a new Vapor Chef eJuice?
TVC: Each of my recipes has many revisions, when I’m happy with something it gets tweaked and tested until it is perfect, and then I test them on my friends. After passing that test I send some samples out to random internet people. This method helps me determine how different flavor palates react to the juice and allows me to make changes before offering them for sale.
Spinfuel: How do you protect your bottles when shipping them? How do you make sure they can ship across country safely?
TVC: Well… Our 6ml bottles are plastic ‘squeezy’ bottles and all the larger sizes are glass bottles with dropper tops. We take care to wrap the bottles in bubble wrap to ensure their safe arrival to the customer.
Spinfuel: You told me that Vapor Chef never “pre-ships” an order. I’d never even thought about that before, but it makes great sense. Can you tell our readers what you told me about your “pre-ship” philosophy?
TVC: We never generate a shipping label and email a tracking number if the package will not be in transit that very same day. This is just a way to show our customers exactly how and when the order is shipped and when they can expect it.
Spinfuel: What about steeping? Do you ship your eJuice freshly made, and do your customers need to home steep them? If they do, how long would you recommend?
TVC: I think steeping is a personal preference and varies from juice to juice with every Vaper. I vape everything we make fresh and steeped before approving it for sale.
Spinfuel: What is the ‘shelf life’ of your juice? We’ve seen juice go bad after only 3 months, and we’ve seen some brands claim a shelf life of 3 years. Where does Vapor Chef fit in?
TVC: Well… Our liquids usually don’t hang around too long. I have some juice I made over a year ago and it still tastes fine. Some flavors change over time. Nicotine degrades considerably over a year or so. I would say 12 months at room temp.
Spinfuel: In your opinion of course, what is the best way for your customers to steep their Vapor Chef eLiquids, if they do want to steep them, and what is the best way to store any eJuice at home?
TVC: It’s always best in a cool dark place, and I don’t recommend heat steeping, ever.
Spinfuel: Spinfuel eMagazine believes that as far as federal and state, and even city/town regulations on vaping should be minimal. However, when it comes to safety of eLiquids we believe that eLiquid vendors should be under the same or similar rules that restaurants have, safe handling, storing, mixing, and purity. We also think occasional inspection of the premises where eLiquids are made should be inspected for cleanliness and so forth. Since you come from a fine-dining background, what view does Vapor Chef take on this?
TVC: Perhaps even a little more. Our mixing room is much cleaner than any kitchen I have ever worked in. I treat it more like a lab than a kitchen. Gloves, hair coverings, and clean coats (I make everyone wear chef coats). The room is dusted swept and mopped every day, air filters on the intakes, steel tables and all our mixing supplies are glass.
Spinfuel: Where does Vapor Chef fall on matters like regulations on eLiquids?
TVC: I think regulating eLiquid and eCigs as their own category is what should happen. I do not feel that they should be subject to the same regulation as tobacco products. In short, some regulation would be good. 18 year age requirements, inspections of mixing facilities, those sorts of things.
Spinfuel: Let’s talk about that facility of yours a little. Your staff is required to wear special clothing; the aforementioned chef coats for instance. What other precautions do you take?
TVC: Well, yes, there are gloves, hair coverings, and the clean chef coats, the room is dusted, swept and mopped every day, air filters on the intakes, steel tables and all our mixing supplies are glass. Same goes for me. I wear a white chef coat and everyone else wears black. We launder them and keep them in the office so they stay clean. We take this part of the process very seriously. We’re constantly improving the business and work environment.
Spinfuel: Changing the subject a bit; we love it that you guys test your eLiquids with all types of batteries and atomizers, cartomizers, clearomizers, etc. Is it difficult to maintain consistency throughout various hardware used for vaping so that the Vaper gets a similar, if not exactly that same flavor no matter what they use?
TVC: Difficult? It’s impossible. Different devices offer a different result, that’s the bottom line. We just try to make the best product we can and hope our customer’s will like it.
Spinfuel: Do you have a “house blend” for PG/VG ratios? Can you tell us what it is, and why?
TVC: 50/50, simply because it works in the widest range of devices.
Spinfuel: When deciding on new flavors to work on is there a formula you use, such as “We have more fruits flavors than desert flavors, let’s make a new desert flavor” or is it inspiration that guides you, or something else?
TVC: No pattern whatsoever. I just mix flavors and when I come across a blend I think is good I offer it to others then tweak.
Spinfuel: Is there one area, fruit, sweet, coffee, tobacco, or even florals that you specialize in?
TVC: It seems that our fruit flavors sell the best.
Spinfuel: Are there some flavor extracts that should remain ‘off-limits’ for eLiquids, or is any flavor worth experimenting with? In other words, there seems to be flavor extracts for just about anything. For example; how many ‘almond’ flavored eLiquids are there? I don’t think I’ve seen a single one. Or Black Walnut, Grand Marnier, or even Shitake Mushrooms, is anything off limits?
TVC: Blue cheese and smoked salmon. Nope.
Spinfuel: Everyone on your staff is a Vaper, does that help you zero in on whether or not you’ve developed a flavor that your customers will enjoy?
TVC: Yes! They are the ‘first line’ of testers; it has to make its way past them first
Spinfuel: Does your staff have any favorites or are they always vaping from the menu? Do you have a favorite eJuice from the menu?
TVC: We all have our own favorites and they vary greatly from week to week. ‘Honey pearry’ is always in someone’s PV.
Spinfuel: Last question, I promise. Why are those 6ML bottles that come with the 36ML option so hard to squeeze? 😉
TVC: I know, I know. I recommend people take a pin or sewing needle and widen the tip a bit. We’re working on getting custom bottles made, but you know, something always comes up.