We had the good fortune of connecting with Humberto “The Chori-Man” Raygoza and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Humberto “The Chori-Man”, how do you think about risk?
For me, taking a risk is grabbing unexpected opportunities that open up for you when you least expect them, and especially when they scare you the most. It’s the only way to learn and grow. If you aren’t taking risks, you are settling. And that to me, has always been unsettling.
The Chori-Man began when I took a huge risk, and sold everything I owned, even my bike, to start my chorizo operation from my one bedroom apartment. Everything I’ve ever done, learned and accomplished has stemmed from a risk so big, that it floored me, scared me and thrilled me. And almost every single time, it has paid off. Not always, but the lessons in those instances are priceless.
I don’t see myself living without taking risks. I don’t think you can have one without the other.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The Chori-Man is a company/restaurant that makes a line of artisan chorizos & sausages from high quality ingredients. The recipes were created by me from family recipes and techniques that were passed down to me going back four generations. Our biggest flex is that we’ve always stayed consistent, & rigid when it comes to our quality control, taste, and execution.. Even with the fluctuating market prices, and shortages, we have consistently preferred to take a hit than to lower the standard quality of our products. Our chorizos only use chilies, spices, vinegar and meat. We pride ourselves in not adding lard, or fillers. When you buy our products by the pound and they are added to your favorite dishes or when our chorizo links are placed on your grills, you just get meat, and minimal grease. We carry chicken, pork, and soy chorizos, because we want the whole family, and each member’s unique dietary needs to be taken care of. It still makes my eyes tear up when I see posts of families sitting around their kitchen table, eating our chorizos & sausages. For a small moment, all is good, and we’re all connected. That’s beautiful.
It’s been very hard work to get to where we are, and the pandemic has been a crazy prolonged battle that we’re all just trying to get through. But we continue to show up, and serve our best, and our customers continue to meet us halfway. We can’t thank them enough.
I want people to know that I started with nothing. When I say I sold everything even my bike, it wasn’t property or a vehicle. I was a student, with a bike, and a futon. I gave it my all and bought a little meat grinder I had to crank by hand. I used to mix the adobo into the meat with a large wooden paddle like the old school chorizo makers would do. I put myself in the hospital working 16 hour days, seven days a week, without a single day off for five years.
And this isn’t to discourage anyone. It’s to tell you that to dream big, also means you have to do big. To risk big. The determination has to be big. And even the fear has to be big.
But that’s what it takes, and it’s worth the beautiful struggle.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This question makes me blush with embarrassment but I can also own my truth. I work all the time. As I mentioned before, I have been pulling insane days for years, so i can’t provide a week long itinerary. But I will say this; I’m a dad now, and my partner Vanessa and I like to do simple things with our 2 yr old son, Emiliano. So here it goes! Some of our favorites.
We are huge bread lovers so for us, Collossus in San Pedro, Gusto Bread in Long Beach & La Monarca bakeries in any of their locations are a must stop in the South Bay.
We are big time Farmer’s Market fans and the Culver City Farmers Market & Torrance FM are some of our favorites. Arnett Farms has the best fruits and preserves and nut butters period.
Grand Central Market has a place that sells ceviche tostadas that will rock your world.
Nelson’s at the Terranea Resort has the greatest view of the sun setting over the ocean, while you enjoy their ribeye sandwich.
Smorgasborg L.A. is just a blast and a place where you can try the yummiest and coolest looking food.
Mario’s Peruvian in Hancock Park has a lomo saltado and saltado de mariscos that makes your eyes roll back it’s so good.
Sonoratown. Nothing like it, and they just get better and better. Chivichanga… just do it.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
You can’t do things all alone. When you set out to do something, the people that stand behind you, beside you and those who pave the way, are what get you where you’re meant to be. For the first six months my mom would stay up with me all night and make my first rounds of chorizo, teaching me techniques passed down from my family.
Once I started making it, Vince Howard & Tim Edwards of the Del Rey Deli tasted it, took a chance on me, and hired me as their in house chorizo maker. That open door introduced me to one of my biggest supporters and kindest men I’ve known. His name is Farley Elliott, who is a food writer for LA Eater. He called me The Best Secret Chorizo of L.A. in the 2014 Edition of LA Weekly. I still have that edition.
Then taking a big risk when I wanted to grow, I walked up to Wes Avila of the then named Guerrilla Tacos, and asked him for advice, and he told me to just go for it. His support and encouragement, and willingness to hear me out, is something I’ve never forgotten. It allowed me to grow as an entrepreneur and give me the confidence to network and set big goals for myself.
Mandy Barton then became my partner in 2017 and her support and our collaboration gave birth to our brick and mortar in San Pedro, which is where people can visit me and eat our chorizos, to this day.
There’s Ricardo, owner of La Monarca Bakeries, whose mentorship is always gold to me.
Through it all my life partner Vanessa Ilka has been by my side. When we started dating 9 years ago I was her barista at Starbucks and she was my favorite customer. We’d sit on her boat in Marina Del Rey after I got off work and talk about my chorizo business dreams, and she’d tell me about hers. She was a strict vegetarian, and I created the soyrizo because I wanted her to try my chorizos. She saw the first batch I ever made where I forgot to take the seeds out of the Chilies and had to pick them out by hand! I was so upset that day!
It’s been a wild ride, and there are so many people I wish I had time to mention. I can’t stress enough how thankful and humbled I am by their love and support.
Facebook: The Chori-Man