Many Pick-Up customers are known to be aficionados of hot sauce. They’ll be pleased to know that we now stock various spicy sauces from a local purveyor, Zambo’s Hot Sass. The fiery concoctions are the brainchild of Zsofia Zambo, a Vancouver native who’s made Montreal her home for the past decade. “I started it because I was procrastinating studying for a statistics exam,” Zambo recalls. “I had learned how to can from a workshop that Camilla [of Preservation Society] did. So one night, instead of studying I made hot sauce. I made like 50 jars to give to my friends.”
But when Zambo found herself in dire financial straits, the sauces changed from gifts to a source of sustenance. “I sold all the jars to my friends ’cause I was so desperate for money.” But they weren’t buying merely out of sympathy. “People were like ‘this is so good, you should keep selling it!’”
Zambo’s Hot Sass (the name, she says, came about because “somebody said that I was sassy”) truly took off during last year’s Pop Montreal festivities. “At Puces Pop in September 2012, I sold like 100 jars and I was like ‘holy shit!’ At that point it started to seem like a valid entrepreneurship.”
The Pick-Up proudly stocks four of Zambo’s creations. Capsicum Carota is a carrot sauce with habanero; Eriquito features roasted tomato, garlic and onion with chipotle; Caribbean Cat mixes green papaya and bitter melon with habanero, and Baby Girl is an intriguing blend of jalapeño, mango and tequila.
It all sounds both delicious and bold. But, Zambo demurs, “I’m definitely not a foodie. I do have a vested interested in food and nutrition, but I never considered myself someone who talks about food or blogs about it or is obsessed with hot sauce or whatever.”
Foodie or not, she does bring some serious knowledge to the table, with a BSc in nutritional biochemistry and a masters’ in human nutrition. “There’s a lot of food science in my head,” she admits, “but it’s mostly trial and error.”
Today, the sauce scientist is conducting her trials in a rented kitchen while building the business end of her enterprise. The existing small jars are soon to be redesigned and rebranded. Asked about further plans for the future, Zambo says, “I wanna make a hangover sauce.” We’ll be keeping a close eye on this development.