Made in Waukesha County
A comfort flavor
Versatile Smokiní Ts handmade and sold locally

By Katherine  Michalets - Freeman Staff

Nov. 3, 2015


Jeannie and Thomas Hochheim with their Smokin' T's at The Petite Chef in Delafield.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

DELAFIELD - Thereís something about a natural smoky taste that is as comforting as a campfire and generates a cult-like following among fans, said Thomas Hochheim, who created Smokiní Ts to harness that exceptional flavor.

ďItís a familiar flavor, but you canít put your finger on it. Itís a comfort flavor,Ē he said.

Made in Dousman but based in Delafield, Smokiní Ts is a versatile product that can be used as a sauce, dressing or marinade.

Hochheim first came up with the idea while working in a French restaurant in Florida. While making smoked scallops for an appetizer at the restaurant in the early Ď90s, one day he tossed tomatoes into the batch and then used them to make a vinaigrette to accompany the shellfish. Later, he moved to Delafield and worked at Kurtís Steakhouse, where locals got to sample the smoky tomato product and wanted more of it.


Smokin' T's Sauce, Dressing, Marinade.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

His heritage, though, is German. Hochheim immigrated to the United States on a 32-foot sailboat with his family when he was 13 and eventually settled in Florida.

Now, 30 years later, Hochheim is pursuing the American dream of owning a business. In February, Hochheim launched Smokiní Ts. He makes two versions of the sauce: original and with a kick. One of the best aspects of Smokiní Ts sauces is how versatile they are, he said, explaining they can be used in Bloody Mary drinks, burgers, stews, marinated pork chops, chili, taco dip, chicken salad and more.

The process to make the sauce is labor intensive so itís still made in small batches at The Petite Chef in Dousman, where Hochheim smokes the tomatoes and doesnít use an artificial smoke flavor additive. In fact, the sauces are all natural. During the peak time, Hochheim said, he was producing up to 50 cases of Smokiní Ts per week.

Since starting to sell the 12-ounce bottles of Smokiní Ts, Hochheim has distributed it to area stores, including Albrechtís Sentry in Delafield, Daybreak Station in Delafield, Good Harvest Market in Waukesha, Sentry stores in Waukesha, Madison and Wauwatosa, Sausage Haus and Oil Well in Oconomowoc, among others. He also sold it at nine farmers markets during the summer. This winter, Smokiní Ts can be found at several winter farmers markets, including in Oconomowoc, Milaegerís in Racine, McFarland and Woodstock, Ill. 

He has gotten into so many markets thanks to his family, who helps with production, distribution and selling. He credits his wife, Jeannie, daughter, Erika Goff, and son-in-law Jon as huge helpers, as well as his son, Evan, and in-laws, John and Pat Hallagen.

Hochheimís plan is to expand locally as much as possible and then increase nationally. He has had sales online to other states.

ď(I hope) they might stumble onto something they want on their regular shopping list,Ē he said.

The vegan, gluten-free Smokiní Ts retails for $7.49 to $8.49 per 12-ounce bottle.

ďIím extremely confident that Smokiní Ts will be around for a long time,Ē he said.