Last year I attended the National Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show (fieryfoodsshow.com) in Albuquerque, N.M. It was unlike any trip I’ve ever done: an entire trip fueled by hot sauce. It was incredible to view the world through the eyes of people who dedicate their entire lives to … hot sauce. To bring it closer to home, I met with the makers of Mimi’s Hittin’ the Sauce, a line of hot sauce products made right here on Martha’s Vineyard.
Mark and Cathy Peters are the owners, and longtime hot sauce creators. Even though their sauce officially launched this past year, they have been making hot sauces, jams, and more in their home kitchen for years. Their friends and family pushed them to bring the sauce to market. Karen Lodge of LeRoux at Home was their biggest motivator, which is why LeRoux in Vineyard Haven is one of the spots you can find their products, along with Alley’s and Cronig’s. The support of the local community is what fuels those early mornings harvesting tomatoes and those late nights hand-labeling each bottle.
The Peterses do it all, from beginning to end. Everything that goes into their sauces is either grown by the couple or sourced from local farms. Mark, the head gardener, cultivates tomatoes and peppers, which make up the base of their sauces. It’s a backbreaking job, but someone has to do it, and Mark seems to thoroughly enjoy it. He mentions they will be starting their tomato plants indoors quite soon: seedlings that sprout from a collection of the best seeds they have saved through the years, and a Roma tomato that makes the tastiest salsas and hot sauces. And that’s the thing about these sauces: They have quite a lot of flavor. Most hot sauces are just that — hot — without any flavor to make them sing on the palate. Mimi’s Hittin’ the Sauce has two varieties, “Hacha” and “HaChaChaCha,” as well as a Pepper Jelly and a salsa, and they all have different flavors, with the same underlying tones of fresh peppers and tomatoes. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be the HaChaChaCha hot sauce or the Pepper Jelly, which are both amazing on a sandwich.
When talking to Cathy, you can sense a pride in her work — she’s been creating, tweaking, and serving up these recipes for as long as she can remember. It’s a product that isn’t just a product, but more like an offspring to her.
By the way, when looking for local products to support, it’s definitely important to check if it is truly made on-Island, as some brands outsource their processes. Mimi’s Hittin’ the Sauce does not. Whether it’s the garden tomatoes and peppers hand-picked by Mark, the cooking of the sauces in a certified, undisclosed kitchen on-Island, or the hand-labeling until late hours of the night, it’s the pride in their work that makes the sauces even more delicious. The sauces are 100 percent made on M.V. — a labor of love and effort that’s worth the $8.99 you pay per bottle. Maybe we can all be like Beyoncé, who sings in her latest album, “I got hot sauce in my bag/swag.” Can we all just carry around minis of Mimi’s Hittin’ the Sauce in our pockets and purses? I sure am.
To contact Mimi’s Hittin’ the Sauce, find them on Facebook: bit.ly/MimisHittinTheSauce.