Both the brunch concept and hot honey are growing rapidly.

Ruby Slipper Café was founded in 2008 in New Orleans as the city was beginning to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Not only was the brunch concept a trailblazer in the economic resurgence of its home city, but Ruby Slipper Café has proven to be a culinary innovator in the greater brunch space, too.

The brand’s menu is a study in New Orleans-style authenticity: Diners are greeted with options like Crawfish & Grits, seasonal beignets, Bananas Foster Pain Perdu, and much more. One of the brand’s signature menu items, Sweet Heat Chicken & French Toast Bites, uses Mike’s Hot Honey and further exhibits the brand being willing to push the envelope when it comes to creating new and exciting brunch items.

Marla Chua, culinary operations director at Ruby Slipper Café—which now has 20 units across six states—reports that while her concept was one of the first brunch brands in the southeast using Mike’s Hot Honey, other competitors have recently caught on. This isn’t terribly surprising considering “hot honey” has grown on menus by nearly 200 percent in the past four years, according to Datassential, while “sweet heat” was named the 2020 Flavor of the Year by the National Restaurant Association.

The reason for this growth, Chua says, is two-fold. For one, the flavor profile is something diners love. Secondly, an ingredient like Mike’s Hot Honey can be used up and down the menu and help unlock practically unlimited possibilities for brands like Ruby Slipper Café.

“For years and years, people have always used that sweet-savory flavor combination,” Chua says. “Sweet heat has really started to take off. When I first tried Mike’s Hot Honey, I thought, ‘This is exactly how I want my dishes to taste.’ It wasn’t as popular in the breakfast and brunch space then, but it’s such a versatile and addicting ingredient that we’ve been able to find so many different ways to use it.”

Aside from the Sweet Heat Chicken & French Toast Bites, Ruby Slipper Café has used Mike’s Hot Honey in a “sweet heat” glaze diners can add to a Fried Chicken Sandwich. They have also used it in Hot Honey Ham and Greens Benedict, a Hot Honey-Infused Vanilla Cheesecake, and an Iced Mocha LTO.

Beyond the versatility of the product, Chua and her team have loved working with the Mike’s Hot Honey team as well. After Chua tried the product for the first time, she reached out and heard back immediately from Mike’s Hot Honey founder Mike Kurtz who has remained a “true partner” and wealth of information for Chua and her team in terms of how the product can be used and marketed.

“From a marketing partnership standpoint, they are super open and easy going,” says Melissa Carter, marketing director at Ruby Slipper Café. “They do a great job helping highlight some smaller brands like us and we really appreciate it. On top of that it’s just a great product and complement to our dishes and beverages—I anticipate Mike’s Hot Honey will continue to be featured on our menu for a long time.”

For more on adding Mike’s Hot Honey to your menu, visit

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