Renaissance life appeals to military veteran


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Restaurateur Chris Porro has served in three different branches of the United States military.

Courtesy of Chris Porro

No one can ever accuse Chris Porro of leading a boring life. Marine, architect, meteorologist, restaurateur and award-winning salsa maker — Porro has done it all.

The Boston native followed his family’s desire to serve and enlisted in the military.

“My sister was in the military and both of my grandfathers were in, too,” Porro said.

His mother credits his maternal grandfather, who was killed in Italy during World War II, for keeping watch over Porro’s safety during his 15 years in the service. During his junior year of studying architecture, Porro went into the Navy before transferring to the Marines and later the Army, where he settled in for 10 years as a staff sergeant. Connected to an artillery unit, his duties included meteorology.

“We would drive over to the side with the “bad guys, and relay information such as wind direction and temperature back to the Howitzers and the other big guns,” Porro said.

The job taught him to travel light and fast.

“You only carry your weapon and your meteorology kit,” Porro said.

After his military service, Porro finished his degree in architecture and proceeded to provide interior design for his father’s cabinetry manufacturing company.

“Mom is an executive chef and dad typically designed kitchens. So, when I was growing up, I wasn’t helping my dad build kitchens. I was in the kitchen helping mom,” Porro said.

Porro eventually decided to strike out on his own, but he wanted to stay in the kitchen. He and wife Jenny became owners of a unique hot dog cart that worked the local farmers’ markets.

“We sold specialty sandwiches, breakfasts, sausage and pepper sandwiches, everything but hot dogs,” he said.

The couple also began a small catering business out of the local commissary kitchen in Suntree. Here, they also created their Tropical Spices Hot Sauces. The business thrived to the point that three years ago, the Porros opened Over the Top Sammies gourmet sandwich shop in Palm Bay. Most of the items on the menu include the Porro’s distinct hot sauces, which this year took two top prizes at the World Hot Sauces Awards in Louisiana.

“We’ve completed and won four times out of five years,” Porro said.

Last year, Porro’s sauces won against entries from 12 different countries. This year, Porro’s Sing Sing Sauce won for the third year in a row and his Imperial Sauce won in the Asian Division.

Last year, the Porros published “Getting Sauced,” a cookbook inspired by their award-winning sauces, so author can be added to Porro’s eclectic list of accomplishments.

Over the Top Sammies is at 2524 Palm Bay Road, Unit 2 in Palm Bay. For further information, call 321-586-4343 or go to  tropicalspicesllc.com