Couple bring taste of Trinidad to Scotland

Tony Johnson.

Tony Johnson.

Made in a village hall in the Borders, a hot sauce with a Trinidadian background has been shortlisted for a top national award.

Ooft! Sauce is produced by Gabrielle and Tony Johnson in Smailholm village hall’s quality certified kitchen using the freshest ingredients, before being left to mature in for a year.

The family recipe has seen the product shortlisted for the Scottish Food and Drink Excellence Awards after it tickled the tastebuds of the judges.

Tony Johnson told The Southern: “We submitted it to the awards in the hope that we could get some guidance and feedback from the judges really, and we are delighted to be shortlisted. We are over the moon.”

The couple moved to the area in 2008, having fallen in love with the Borders while on holiday after moving back to the UK in 2006.

“My wife Gabrielle is Trinidadian and we lived there for a long time and have always eaten hot pepper sauce,” Tony said.

“Gabrielle’s father made a lot of pepper sauce and was well known for it in Trinidad, and he passed the recipe on to my wife.

“We started the company (Island Girl Ltd) in 2012, but the sauce requires a unique production process, a bit like wine.

“We make the sauce then put it in big glass jars and leave it for a year, as it takes a long time to reach flavour perfection, then we bottle and sell it.”

Tony added: “It is still early days - we only had the first product available at the end of last year, so it is only just beginning.”

The couple are tripling production to over 7,000 bottles this year due to demand and expect to be in a position to look for dedicated premises and a full time employee later this year.

“It is a big challenge, but it is fun and we love doing it,” Tony said.

Ooft! Sauce is on sale at Floors Castle, Teviot Smokery, Selkirk Deli and Mainstreet Trading in the Borders and in Edinburgh at Lupe Pintos, Cranachan and Crowdie and Herbie of Edinburgh. It is also available through the Hot Headz website.




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