Friday, November 04, 2005

Spice It Up! Gourmet Specialty Sauce Ready to Set Crabtree Valley Mall on Fire - Brought to you by - Stay on top of the day's bu

Oxford, NC – It is possibly the only food product that comes with a warning on its label.

Spice It Up! Gourmet Specialty Sauce, made right here in North Carolina, is a scorcher of a sauce that area specialty shops are having trouble keeping on the shelves. North Carolina Remembered Inc., at Raleigh’s Crabtree Valley Mall, is the latest in a long line of stores to carry the sauce, and is hosting a tasting from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, February 19.

Fire-eaters are welcome. The feint of heart – or tongue, as it were – should use extreme caution. Spice It Up! sauce is a scorching condiment many say is hotter than any other product on the market.

Pastor Tyrone Holmes cooks up the sauce in his Oxford, N.C., kitchen, usually on Mondays and Tuesdays. Most cases are sold before the last jar is filled. “This is only for the brave,” Holmes says. “You have to have a love for very hot, very spicy food.”

James E. Johnson, head chef at Duke University’s east campus, buys the sauce by the case – mostly for personal use, or mixing with his own sauces. Ironically, so do several Durham firefighters.

The sauce is also available via Carolina Sauce Company, one of the leading sauce sites on the Web, at In one recent week, Holmes took orders from five different specialty gift and gourmet shops in North Carolina. And the sauce has fans nationwide.

“We use Spice It Up! with chili, nachos, eggs and everything,” says Erika Sands of Raleigh. Annie Sassa Zodulma, formerly of Congo, Africa, says she hasn’t tasted anything as hot as Holmes’ sauce since coming to the United States. Jose Suarez, of Guadalajara, Mexico, says he eats jalapenos and chili peppers all the time, but likes Holmes’ sauce because it is thick, “with a fresh smell and a good mixture of spices.”

Holmes is putting the finishing touches on other sauces in the Spice It Up! Line:

* Tropical Storm
* Flaming Fruit
* Garlic Lovers
* Mean Green Seafood Sauce
* Gourmet Seafood Dip with crabmeat and shrimp

Both Holmes and his wife, Candy, are pastors of an outreach ministry in Oxford. They view the sauce business as a means to an end. They would like to one day open a food processing facility and hire people out of prison – men and women who just need someone to give them a break in life.

Holmes Food Products is a member of Goodness Grows in North Carolina and the North Carolina Specialty Food Association.

Spice It Up! Gourmet Specialty Sauce information: Fat free; 0 grams carbohydrates; 10 calories per serving. Made with garden-fresh vegetables, and ready to use hot or cold.

Dish recommendations: spaghetti, poultry, pork, seafood, beef, hot dogs, beans, greens, dips, eggs, grits and much more.

About Tyrone and Candy Holmes
As an undergraduate student at Jersey City State College in Jersey City, N.J., Candy Holmes went to study sessions with her friends and ate big cheeseburgers. Her friends knew that foods with high fat content were not good for Candy’s health, and they introduced her to salsa. This was new to her, but it became enjoyable.

In 1995, Candy and her husband, Tyrone, moved from Newark, N.J., to Durham, N.C. Candy, then a graduate student at N.C. Central University in Durham, was not known for her cooking expertise. She once said, “If it’s not in a box or frozen, I can’t work it.”

That fall, Candy could not find her favorite brand of salsa – Ortega – in North Carolina, so she decided to make her own. Her husband, a lover of extremely hot and spicy foods, quickly became hooked on the chunky, multi-spiced creation they called Candy’s Down Home Country Salsa. Tyrone felt it was good enough to market – so they did. Samples were given away and survey results supported their desire to market it. Many respondents said the salsa had a slow, powerful kick to it.

The couple sold their product in a variety of ways. The salsa was part of Goodness Grows in NC, and was carried in several local stores in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) and in the Henderson, N.C. area. John McCann, a writer with the Durham Herald-Sun newspaper, was interested in how the salsa came into being, and interviewed Tyrone and Candy at the 1998 Food Expo in Raleigh. The story was published and the salsa became even more popular.

Four years later, the couple chose to cease production of the salsa, due to a lack of finances.

In the spring of 2004, Tyrone and Candy decided to restart the business, this time concentrating on making an all-purpose gourmet sauce that could be used on any dish. The recipe didn’t change much, but the texture did. The new product is called Spice It Up!

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