Meet the Maker: Sobremesa Mole & Salsas
, by Amber Chase
, by Amber Chase
Sobremesa, a line of authentically crafted salsas and signature poblano mole, launched in the midst of a global pandemic. In the midst of constant shifting and uncertainty, founder Mark Ciaburri leaned into his strengths and his familiarity with the Charleston market–namely, what it was missing. While the timing may have seemed impossible, their small batch sauces found their footing.
Ciaburri was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, with a third-generation Mexican-Italian-American heritage. You could say an attraction to food was almost instinctive. He moved to Austin, where he attended culinary school, met his wife Adrianne, and became enamored with cooking and restaurant culture. The two moved to Charleston where Ciaburri began working at High Cotton. There, he got a taste of rapid-fire restaurant work, moving through 300 customers within a 5-hour span. This lifestyle was invigorating for Ciaburri and pushed him to start a concept of his own. He opened a small plates restaurant focusing on Mexican cuisine in Mount Pleasant, but the “timing just wasn’t right”. He shifted to serving their cuisine pop-up style, and their salsas and mole were fan favorites. But that familiar tale, Covid-19 hit, and the Ciaburris had to evolve yet again.
As the pandemic surged through the Charleston culinary scene, the Ciaburris played into their strengths: the salsas and mole that sparked their following. If they were going to start this brand, they wanted it to start strong. They began tailoring their product to make it shelf stable, balancing the pH and water content, developing vegan and gluten-free recipes, and designing their brand packaging and direction. 11 months later, they launched Sobremesa.
Mole became their signature product. When the Ciaburris started out, South Carolina really didn’t have any shelf-stable moles available, so they needed to acquaint their customers with mole. Luckily, in Charleston, the international food scene is really coming alive, and people are much more receptive to trying new things. The response has been astounding, and their products are quick to fly off the table at local farmers markets. Sobremesa finally found its timing.
Ciaburri comments, “I just fell in love with it. Compared to salsas, mole was a different beast.” He says there’s a strategic balancing of flavors and textures that come together in the sauce. Mole, when made right, takes time, and Ciaburri has perfected his method.
Sobremesa mole is the perfect companion for mole poblano enchiladas, pork belly tacos, or spooned on top of roasted root vegetables for a vegan and vegetarian option. Serve it with your eggs in the morning or as a dipping sauce–the possibilities are endless for this versatile condiment.
As a child, Ciaburri remembers associating mole with chocolate, before he realized it really just means: “sauce.” Different regions of Mexico have signature moles and traditional recipes will often incorporate dried chilies, nuts, raisins, seeds, dark chocolate, and cinnamon. Sobremesa’s signature mole features an essence of chocolate essence along with a complex, balanced medley of flavors. It’s simultaneously ready-to-eat, made with quality ingredients, and contains fantastic flavor. “You can taste the freshness and the quality and the love that goes into it,” Ciaburri says with a smile. “It’s crazy to think how far we’ve come, from a love of cooking to shifting toward an Italian or Mexican concept all the way to where we are now with our own product line and brand.”