Tell everyone a little about yourself and/or your business?
Sweet Life Sauce Company was “officially” started in 2009 by Rob and Holly Willets. Our BBQ Sauces started with fresh picked New England Apples and other ingredients Rob found in the kitchen pantry of Holly’s Mom back in 2006. Since then they have been tested with friends and family at shindigs on the banks of the Saco River From New Hampshire to the Coast of Maine to the sun and sand of Florida. With brewing currently underway in Florida we’re bringing a little Yankee Ingenuity and Southern Hospitality to you in each jar. Enjoy our Apple and Raisin based BBQ Sauces Sweet Life BBQ Sauce and Spice of Life BBQ Sauce; our Peach, Habanero and Cayenne pepper hot sauce called Screamin’ Peaches Hot Sauce and our Habaneroa and Jalapeno Louisiana Style Hot Sauce called BooDreaux’s Cajun Rocket Fuel’ , and our No-Salt Grilling Rub, Symphony of Seasonings.
What’s in your grilling or tailgating arsenal? Are you a charcoal or gas person?
Currently in possession of a Weber Genesis Gas Grill that we use to tinker with our sauces on various chunks of protein from chicken to wild boar to stoned fish. We also have the Brinkmann Bullet Smokers in the shed ready to go at a moments notice…always started with a pile of Kingsford Charcoal in a Weber Charcoal Chimney and some of our favorite Orlando Sentinel Editorial pages from the Sunday paper.
I have an old..and I mean OLD gas gril out back that is now a charcoal grill when we need it. Still works great!
When needed…we have been know to dig a whole in the back yard, fill it with a few bags of charcoal, lay a hammock of chicken wire across some metal poles, and slapping a 75 pound whole split pig on that fire…injected with onion juice, garlic juice, olive oil, salt, peppered, and just left to swinging on that hammock until it is DONE! Talk about some ooohs and ahhhs…
What is your “go-to” recipe for grilling or barbecue?
.A TurduckenOINK! This is a conconction inspired from a Turducken and MOINK balls. It is a bacon wrapped turkey breast stuffed with a duck breast stuffed with boneless chicken thighs, sweet onions, and buttercup squash. Sounds like a big affair to do but is actually quite easy and leads to lots of ooooohs and ahhhhhs and general showmanship whenever you cook one on the grill.
Describe a perfect party: beginning with the music and ending with dessert.
A little bit of chicken fried, cold beer on a Friday night, a pair of jeans that fits just right…and the radio on…
How about a start around 4 pm. We’re on a beach looking across the Ocean. Horseshoe pit is set up ready to go…just had a 50 pound sack of crawfish flown in from Louisiana Crawfish Company. We have a little Zydeco, Bluegrass, and Boston cycling through the iPod in the background.
Boston Butts have been going on the smoker since about 3 am and are falling off the bone…a venison roast is slowly smoking under the drippings of the Boston Butts…
What are some of your favorite, specialty products from near where you live or work? (meats, sauces, seasonings, beer, wine, cheeses, etc)?
Obviously, we’re pretty big fans of Sweet Life Sauce Company BBQ Sauces, Hot Sauces, and Grilling Rubs. Grilling with all the fresh citrus we get here in the winter is something to look forward to. The different types of Citrus impart a wide variety of flavor to meats cooked on the grill. Fresh lemons, oranges, grapefruits, limes, tangerines, and kumquats all add wonderful layers of flavor on the grill.
What are five essential tools you would recommend that should be in every grillmasters arsenal?
A Charcoal Chimney…never use lighter fluid
A great set of tongs with a reach of 18 inches or so…
A really good towel…
Symphony of Seasonings Grilling Rub
Every city or region has their own signature outdoor cooking specialty (Maine: lobster bakes, Wisconsin: fish boils, KC/St Louis- BBQ)…what do you consider your region’s signature experience?
Being from the Adirondacks and transplanted to Florida for all these years I’ve found Florida to be a melting pot of all types of flavors from around…let’s say East of the Mississippi. We have our seafood in Florida…fresh fish that is awesome on the grill…nothing better than pulling fresh Pompano out of the surf at Canaveral National Seashore in February, getting them to the beach, cleaning them, stuffing them with fresh lemon and garlic, and throwing them on a charcoal hibachi brushed with a thin layer of Sweet life BBQ Sauce to have for an incredible breakfast with your friends. You can’t beat the tailgating experience at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on the campus of the University of Florida either!
What has been your most memorable experience, ever, that involves a grill?
This one brings me back to my childhood and all the summer nights with my family in the Adirondacks…it was the small charcoal hibachis that I remember with BBQ chicken grilling on them as we had friends and family visiting us. And I remember the smell and taste of that chicken…the skin slightly charred with the BBQ sauce sticking perfectly…all over our faces…our Springer Spaniel looking for any morsels that hit the gorund…It was the people and the pototo salad and coleslaw and cupcakes that went along with all those warm hibachi nights…
Any local micro-brew you can recommend?
I can…Orlando has a local brewer…Orlando Brewing. They have a incredible line of organic brews with my favorite being the Blackwater Dry Porter…it is delicious and has an incredible finish on your palette…
What is your perspective on the “buy local” movement? Do you promote local farms and the “farm to fork” movement? Why or why not?
I’m becoming more and more like Wendell Berry each day…actively trying to live the Art of the Commonplace. I rent kitchen space from a local farm on their property to brew our sauces and rubs. We participate in one of the oldest Farmers markets in Florida in Sanford each Saturday. We buy most of our ingredients and supplies from local or state of Florida companies…
We also have a very good customer that operates a farm to fork business in Central Florida that has given us great visibility to the benefits of getting back to local businesses and locally grown food. Once you start your own small business you realize how important supporting local people is versus hitting the big box stores and national chains that could care less about you or the community you live in. I don’t think there is enough space for me to go on this soliloquy…so I’ll stop here.
I’m www.sweetlifesaucecompany.blogspot.com. This is our blog and has been used to get my creative writing itch…scratched.
Look up robwillfish on Youtube and you will find a video recipe for the TurduckenOINK I mention above. I also have 15 or so other recipes and a couple out in the community videos of me doing Hot Sauce shots with our two hot sauces.