BREEZY POINT - For a Breezy Point couple, the official start to summer means business is hot on the grill.BREEZY POINT - For a Breezy Point couple, the official start to summer means business is hot on the grill.
Paula and Jim Dotterwicks' road to the barbecue sauce business started with the competition barbecues when they lived in Kansas City, Mo., in 1995. But they never expected to have their own sauce label selling in lakes area stores.
They began after friends got them involved in contests and fundraising dinners. The events meant they were up all night doing the prep work, shooting the breeze with other cooks, gaining knowledge, sipping beverages and catching the competition fever.
"We created our own sauce for the contest because we weren't too happy with the store-bought sauce," Jim said, noting they came up with their own after mixing ingredients together over the years. They'd make extra to take to the contests as people would keep asking them for it until it seemed as though they were making a batch of sauce every other day.
"We used to do it ourselves right here at home but we couldn't keep up so we got it commercially done to our specifications," Jim said.
Paula said the move to a commercial process was fueled not only by the volume but came because they wanted the ability to sell the sauce in stores. To meet state and federal regulations needed for retail sales, they couldn't continue to make the sauce at home. They had their sauces made commercially last year. They created their barbecue sauce in the lab and then it was analyzed and approved for the ingredients. The trick was to make the sauce taste the way it did from their kitchen stove. Their sauces are now made at Original Juan in Kansas City, Kan. Their Demon Pig labels were created at Viking Label in Nisswa.
"Viking Label did a really nice job for us," Paula said.
Those labels are on the shelves of 15 retailers from Maryland to area retailers Chef & Co. in Baxter, Northern Food King in Pequot Lakes, Pelican Square in Breezy Point, Reed's Market in Crosslake, Schaefer's Foods in Nisswa, Shamp's Meat Market in Pine River and Thielen Meats in Little Falls.
Chef & Co. was the first retailer to sell their sauce. The Dotterwicks left samples with stores and checked back to see if they would include them on their shelves and they said their fans from area barbecues asked retailers for them.
"This will replace your ketchup," Jim said. "This isn't really like your basic Kraft or Open Pit barbecue sauce. It's more of a gourmet meat sauce than a barbecue sauce."
Their sauces use sorghum instead of molasses and one has a hint of orange at the end while another uses habanero extract for a little more kick. Jim said the habanero heat comes at the end without a feeling that your mouth is on fire.
"It sneaks up on you way at the back of your tongue it will hang there but it doesn't keep getting hotter and hotter and building up," he said. "It doesn't just tear you up."
They've competed in events with teams ranging from 20 to 400 teams, but most times there were about 60 teams. They still compete and have gained awards at national competitions. They are both certified as competition judges from the Kansas City Barbeque Society.
Midwesterners by birth, Paula is from Rochester, Jim is from LaCrosse, Wis. They first started coming up to the lakes area more than 30 years and moved here full-time nearly eight years ago. Looking for a barbecue team name here, they came up with Demon Pig after the name stuck in Jim's mind.
They have plans to add a seasoning rub to their label. And they suggest customers either serve their sauces at room temperature or by heating them up a few seconds in the microwave.
Never serve the sauce cold, the Dotterwicks said, warming it up wakes up the flavor.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at renee.richardson @brainerddispatch.com or 855-5852.