Get Spicy with Kevin Carlin
What do math and salsa have in common? Lakota teacher and salsa aficionado—Kevin Carlin. You may know him as The Salsa Guy.
During the school year, Kevin enjoys his job as a Lakota East math teacher. When summer break begins, his alter ego emerges as he transforms into The Salas Guy, creating fresh salsas to sell at the West Chester Farmers Market.
When school is out, salsa is in.
Kevin invited us into the Carlin kitchen as he crafted a batch of a new salsa he’ll be rolling out this summer. It will be the seventh to be added to his family of tasty dips. He has been working on this smooth, green concoction with a kick since he and wife Lori first tasted its inspiration at a local restaurant.
Between pulses of the food processor, Kevin reveals the secret ingredient in The Salsa Guy’s recipes: his passion.
Passion for Cooking
Kevin first discovered his love for cooking in the kitchen of his childhood home with his mom.
“I was the kid in the kitchen with my mom saying, ‘Let’s make some cookies!’” he shares.
“When I was in high school, I did an eight-week program where I got to see what chefs do. When I realized that chefs have to work every night and weekend and holiday, I didn’t want to do that,” Kevin says. “Making salsa is how I get my fill in the kitchen.”
Kevin works from a well-loved binder that holds all of the family’s recipes, including his salsas. Salsa is a lifestyle for the Carlins.
Each of Kevin’s salsa blends tells a love story—a love for Mexican culture, Tex-Mex foods and especially for his wife, Lori.
“I met my wife in Arizona,” Kevin explains. “We lived in Las Vegas when we started dating. I would make salsa and Lori would say, ‘Oh, it needs a little bit of this and a little less of that…’ My homemade salsa became the dish we would take to share with friends.”
Even now, years later, a typical date night for the married couple is a hunt for a Mexican restaurant where they taste-test authentic foods that inspire new recipes.
“I taste, he makes. I have the best job as the taster,” Lori laughs.
Together, they work to craft the perfect recipe, tweaking it until they get it just right.
“This is recipe version 12,” Kevin says of the new, green salsa he is making. “I’m the one who makes the salsa, but it’s a team effort, because she has to put up with it.”
Kevin’s daughter Lucy likes to squeeze the limes. His son Sean enjoys assisting with sales at the farmers market. The whole Carlin crew is involved in the salsa business.
Invested in Our Community
Kevin speaks of his experiences at the West Chester Farmers Market with the same affection with which he speaks of his family and students. He takes great pride in all that he claims as his own.
“Salsa enriches our lives, but being a teacher is my job and what I enjoy most. I am very proud to be a teacher in this community. We have a fantastic school district. We have the best teachers. We have great parents,” he says.
“Doing this is not at all about making money. Being part of the community is the fun part. I’m a teacher in the community and we live in the community and I get to spend my summers doing this stuff with community people,” Kevin shares. “It’s fun to be a part of our community!”
Kevin Carlin, The Salsa Guy, is spicing up lives, one container of his delicious salsa at a time. Pass the chips!