Swieners has served delicious, Swiss-style sausage treats to hungry San Diegans since 2010. Swieners Owner Amanda Caniglia was kind enough to answer some questions for SDFT in this interview exclusive!
I’m the co-cheese Amanda Caniglia, and my husband, Nicolas Caniglia, the big cheese, of course. I grew up in the Bay Area and came to San Diego to attend college at UCSD. Nico, un “mezzo mezzo” (half Italian and half French Swiss) was born in Switzerland and spent several years in sales up at the Matterhorn before venturing to the states. We met here in San Diego, dated two weeks, and got married. You could say we have good instincts. When we came up with Swieners we just knew it was going to be a hit. We got our first big break at Balboa Park’s December Nights in 2010, which happens to be the largest event of the year. For our first event we though let’s go for it! … that sink or swim mentality. And well, here we are today, almost two years later, with two tents and plans for massive expansion in the works.
What is a Swiener and how did you come up with the idea?
For the first five years of our marriage, Nico would go on and on about how we needed to bring Swiss style hot dogs to the US. We agreed it was a fun concept but there was something missing to give it that truly unique culinary experience. Nico then introduced me to Raclette. He had lived and worked up at the Matterhorn in Zermatt, where traditionally, people enjoy the cheese over potatoes or dried meats. I suggested we put the cheese in the baguette with the sausage. Nico thought I was nuts. It only took my cousin and other friends giving the same advice for him to listen. (Ladies, sound familiar?) Since then, I have let him believe it was his idea. Kidding aside, it was a fun “experiment” that led to the birth of the Swiener. We are now patenting the process as well as trademarking our name and logo.
How are Swieners made?
We take a fresh baguette from our favorite local bakery Bread & Cie, spike it on a hot metal spike which heats the baguette from the inside. You can then “enhance” your Swiener with ketchup, mustard, dijon, or our beloved Swiss Onion sauce. Then you choose a sausage, bratwurst, cheddar cheese, spicy pork, all beef, chicken apple, turkey jalapeno, even vegan. We’ll stuff that sausage right inside and off you go. But to take it to the next level, you should definitely Swiss It! That means adding the melted raclette cheese inside the baguette and then stuffing the sausage in. You can add bacon bits, jalapenos, chili flakes, or paprika on top of the cheese before melting it into the baguette. So…spike. melt. stuff.
What’s the best/funniest comment someone has ever had about your food?
How big are your Swieners? Kakakakakak! Really, with our name, the jokes are endless. We love it when people are enjoying their food while laughing and having a good time with us at the tent. We have even started something called the “that’s what he/she said” board because of all the good jokes the name Swieners lends itself to. You get the point!
What would you say is your most popular item?
What is something “off the wall” that you would love to put on your menu but aren’t sure people would go for?
Not so much off the wall, but planning to debut cervelat.
What is something you love about your business?
We love that our product is so versatile. We can go from the breweries where we are hailed as the “best beer food ever”, to private corporate events for large companies, to conventions for world leaders, to Comic Con, to family friendly festivals such as December Nights. Like we say, “Everyone loves a Swiener.”
Any exciting events on the horizon?
Oh yes. Fall is a great season for us. We are going to be releasing the dates for our “Swienerfest Tour 2012”. It will include all of the locations where we are celebrating Oktoberfest. It will include some breweries, vineyards, and family festivals. One we are very excited to be co-sponsoring is the First Annual Green Flash Oktoberfest on September 30th. This will be a family friendly event that is FREE! We have a three-year old and love it when there are events that bring the entire community together. Add to that great SD craft beer, even better!