I have never done a promotion for any product or service before, but when Sonya Samuel, the maker of Bacchanal Pepper Sauce in Brooklyn, notified me that she was having a Kickstarter campaign to grow her pepper sauce enterprise, I was intrigued. She sent me a sample of Bacchanal Pepper Sauce and it was gone, literally within a day. (It doesn’t hurt that my Trinidadian husband puts pepper sauce on everything from eggs to apples.) I loved the fruitiness of her Scotch bonnet-based pepper sauce and have supported her on Kickstarter, primarily so it will be easier for me to procure more Bacchanal Sauce! I thought I’d ask her a few questions, too, so you can meet the maker behind the product. She is clearly a kindred spirit who loves food, flavor and spices as much as (or possibly more than) myself.
Spicebox Travels: To introduce myself, I’m married to a Trini (that’s all you need to know!) and our fridge is stocked with too many bottles of pepper sauce to count, including his Mommy’s. My Trini in laws in Trinidad and NY (Queens and Brooklyn) and are sharply divided over their favorite roti shop, Singh’s or TrinCity. Which brings me to my first question: What is your favorite roti shop in Brooklyn? In other boroughs?
SS: In order of my most favorite first:
1. Jen’s Roti shop flatbush between Caton and Linden
2. Ali’s roti shop (the one on Fulton)
Spicebox Travels: Tell me about your Caribbean heritage.
SS: Well my family is from Antigua and I live in Crown Heights Brooklyn. Lot’s of people don’t know how much of a rich Caribbean culture Brooklyn has whether that be Trinidadian, Jamaican, Haitian, Baijan or any other of the wonderful Caribbean Islands. They think it starts and ends with the West Indian day parade, which is absolutely beautiful but we are also intricately woven into the culture of Brooklyn and New York and I want to celebrate that in my pepper sauce and the food I cook. I also equally enjoy visiting and telling people about wonderful restaurants and depending on when you catch me it might be the best Caribbean restaurant on the block, the new Senegalese Bistro, thai spot or Farm to table restaurant touting Americana mainstays.
Spicebox Travels: What is your day job?
SS: The pursuit of pepper, flavor and spice!
Spicebox Travels: How did you get into making Bacchanal Sauce? Where do you currently sell it?
SS: If you know me you know that eating, cooking and baking simply make me happy. I also love spice, peppers and infusing Caribbean ingredients into whatever I make. I love to play and introduce people to new flavors. I started doing “takedowns” which are competitions for home cooks in Brooklyn. One of these competitions was a hot sauce contest last year at the Googa Mooga food festival in prospect park , while the theme of the day was “my hot sauce is hotter than yours”, I focused on bringing heat with phenomenal flavor, it placed in the peoples choice category and people kept coming back and asking where they could buy more. My family and coworkers at the time kept saying I should bottle and sell it because they felt their was nothing quite like it (they secretly probably just wanted more) and that started me on the journey! Currently I sell it on my site at bacchanalsauce.com
Spicebox Travels: What do you plan to do with your Kickstarter funding?
SS: I plan to gear it towards nutritional labels, kitchen rental (it’s a high cost to rent out a commercial kitchen every-time I make a batch), manufacturing costs and wholesale costs. I also want to purchase a filling machine for more efficient bottling.
Spicebox Travels: What is your favorite thing to eat with Bacchanal Sauce?
SS: I love eating it on seafood like shrimp or fish but my favorite is having it on sandwiches specifically a grilled chicken sandwich. I recently had it on fried chicken at pies and thighs restaurant in Brooklyn (yes I had a bottle in my bag) and it was amazing!
Spicebox Travels: What is the most unusual way your customers have used Bacchanal sauce?
SS: Someone used it on pancakes which was inspiring and someone else used it in a stew, while the stew doesn’t seem that odd, it didn’t occur to me that people would use it in that way (as an integral ingredient in a dish)
Spicebox Travels: Where do you get your Scotch bonnet peppers?
SS: I get them from a Caribbean wholesaler/importer in Brooklyn however long term I plan to seek out more cost efficient means of getting them. It would be amazing to get them shipped directly to me from the Caribbean.
Spicebox Travels: Who is your favorite Caribbean musician or what is your favorite Caribbean song, if any?
There are so many songs and artist! I can’t choose. For now I’ll say Burning Flames, Sweet little Island girl and Ooh yah yah ( tried and true), Machel Montano & Kerwin Du Bois w. Ladysmith Black Mambazo POSSESSED and Machel Montano and Freetown Collective One Love. On the reggae tip everything Beres Hammond has ever done is amazing!
Now that you’ve met Sonya, go over to her Kickstarter page and show her a little love! The campaign runs until May 23rd.