TAMPA — Derry Montoute and his wife, Ann-Marie, are from Trinidad where the heat from the tropical climate goes perfectly with the spices and hot sauce that emanate from every kitchen and restaurant.
Derry was freezing in New York, where he lived for a time, and then London. Fortunately, Derry had a brother who played for the Tampa Bay Bandits of the long-forgotten USFL. He visited the area for a game and decided that he didn’t want to leave.
That’s what brought him to the Tampa Bay area where he and Ann-Marie have one of the tidiest homes you might ever find in Northwest Tampa.
Derry loves to cook, and even though he constantly cooks for his friends, the kitchen is spotless.
It hasn’t always been easy for Derry. He had a job in corporate America that left him bored. He also knew he had a talent for making sauces, things he learned growing up in Trinidad.
But the real game changer came when he was told he needed two kidney transplants and was on dialysis. He was told to rest, and that isn’t Derry’s style.
With time to ponder, he realized he wanted to take the skills he learned at a young age and put them to work. Ann-Marie was right beside him.
“I always had a tree in my back yard when I grew up and it allowed me to learn how to make pepper sauces,” Derry said of the key to his special Caribbean dishes. “I started to work with mangoes. People don’t realize how much mangoes are used around the world, but they are and that’s the specialty.”
Ann-Marie recalls the moment of inspiration.
“He realized that, after the transplants, he could make a great contribution to the world with his sauces,” she said. “People kept asking him to make sauces for them and we realized we were really onto something here.”
Derry recently opened his own hot sauce company, Festival Hot Sauce. He is getting the word out by appearing at festivals and local events. The goal is to become involved with a major supermarket chain. He thinks he has a special niche.
“Mangoes are eaten all over the world,” Derry said. “People consume a lot of hot sauce, but mango sauce is different. It isn’t hot, it’s spicy and there’s a difference. There’s hot and mild, some with lime and some we call sweet heat.
“Spices don’t have to burn your mouth and make your stomach hurt. But it’s always good to spice things up a bit.”
All of Derry’s products are all-natural with low sodium, which is rare in the sauce business.
The idea, Ann-Marie said, was to start small. The business is growing and there are plans to start producing pepper jellies.
“The palate of the average American is exploding,” Derry said. “I just hope to be a part of it.”
For more on Festival Hot Sauce, check festivalhotsauce.com or call (800) 331-2974.