Photos by Scott Murry | @hotdogtaco
Bringing the heat, the spice, and the love
I met Alex Bourgeois of Alex’s Ugly Sauce while selling cheese at the farmers markets around Boston two summers ago. Tall, bright eyed, and unfailingly optimistic, Alex won over the locals with his passionate portrayal (and scrumptious spicy samples) of his beloved Ugly Sauce.
He could (and still can!) talk during the whole market about the boxes and boxes of peppers he gets from Stillman’s Farm and the necessity of superior quality Arizona desert honey. One afternoon he called me over with an excited, beaming smile and held out a bottle.
“Look at the new label!” Simple, elegant, and ready for the big time, Alex’s Ugly Sauce was officially cleared for sale in stores. It wasn’t long before the same bottles appeared on the shelves of City Feed and Supply. Now it graces the aisles of stores around Massachusetts from Whole Foods Market and Harvest Co-op in Jamaica Plain to Willow Rest in Gloucester and Volante Farms in Needham. Even the locavores of Cuisine en Locale make use of Alex’s Ugly Sauce in their ONCE a Week meal delivery service. Across the state, Ugly Sauce beautifully fills a niche that Bourgeois felt was missing in the hot sauce market.
“These facts—combined with the end of a CSA season where Glenn Stillman had tons of extra hot peppers left over to give to CSA members—led to the magical transitional moment when I took home as many of the peppers as I could carry.”
The Ugly Sauce’s uncompromising excellence comes after four years of flavor experimentation, all birthed from that summer surplus of Stillman Farms hot peppers strung above radiators throughout Bourgeois’s apartment.
His good-humored spirit and dedication to the highest standard of flavor is a comforting nod to a time before supermarkets and Heinz, when unique products were created locally and had high nutritional value in addition to their exquisite tastiness.
Beyond creating four flavorful hot sauces with a serious kick (Milder, Original, Habeñero, and Dragon), Bourgeois hopes to sponsor more events and fundraisers to boost the local community. This is in tandem with his heartening mission to “provide good food from a company you can feel good about.” If his upcoming events are anything like last year’s Boston Ice Cream and Hot Sauce Takedown, we can rest assured that only good things are on the horizon for both the local food industry and Alex’s Ugly Sauce.