When you talk about barbecue sauce one thinks good ol' boys standing around smokers and fire pits in places like Memphis, Tenn., and Kansas City or maybe just the South in general, certanily Green Bay doesn't spring to mind.
Gary Naze and his Pour Daddy's BBQ Original Sauce may change that.
After years of grilling he says he felt the commercial sauces were drying out the meat he barbecued on the grill, so he decided to create his own.
"Before we started the business, every weekend that was my job to grill and make supper for the family," said Naze. "That was my responsibility."
One weekend at a time Naze adjusted and worked on the sauce.
For anyone who's never tried to create a barbecue sauce from scratch, let me tell from experience that it's not as easy as one would think. There are so many variables depending on sweetness to acidity to heat and other ingredients that I've long abandoned hope of creating a "must-have" sauce. One recipe may go heavy on cider vinegar while another is heavy with chili powder but if you cut back on one ingredient you will find that you need to add something else to round out the flavor. It can be a never-ending game of give-and-take.
I wasn't surprised when Naze - who learned to cook on a wood burning stove at age 4 and worked in supper clubs during his high school years - said it took him three years to perfect his mild sauce recipe.
It's one thing to create a sauce for your personal use, but it's another leap to start a business, but encouragements from family and friends moved him in that direction.
"We had a little potluck at work so I said I was going to make barbecued chicken wings, so I brought that," said Naze. "That's what got the whole thing going because people were saying 'That's such good sauce you can't keep this to yourself, you need to start selling it.' So we kinda started checking into it."
The final nudge came from his wife who said life is too short to sit think "I should of done that" or ask "why didn't I do that."
So he decided to take it to market in the spring of 2010.
Enter the Farm Market Kitchen in Algoma - a non-profit shared-use food processing business incubator - who Naze said helped mentor them and get the business running. Pour Daddy's is still produced in Farm Market's Kitchen.
Through the first few years of the business, Naze says he's gotten plenty of unique uses for his sauce and recipes from customers.
He says they've used it on everything from bison to meatloaf in the oven to slow-cooker chicken.
When I told him it's excellent on grilled salmon and that my wife - who admittedly has a rating scale of 1 or 10 - said it was the best salmon she's had since a sweet potato encrusted version she tried more than a decade ago, he wasn't surprised.
He takes it a step further and says he likes it on deep-fried fish, either mixed in with tarter sauce or completely in place of the traditional accompaniment.
Personally, Naze says one of his favorite uses of the sauce is on a whole pork tenderloin, letting it marinate overnight before smoking it on a grill inside a tented tinfoil that's pack that steams the meat and allows it to simmer in the juices. When it's done the layer of fat "slides off with a fork."
Furthermore it doesn't take a lot of sauce to work as a marinade.
"Just brush it on," he said. "It actually adds moisture to everything, I don't know exactly why it does that but it works."
He's even finding that the sauce works if it's injected into brats, though there is some leaking from where the injector needle is inserted.
But if the sauce were mixed into the meat before the brat is stuffed into the casing, he theorizes the sauce will tenderize the course grind meat in addition to adding flavor.
Another bit of tinkering that occupies his time these days, is figuring how to package the sauces in gallon containers so he can provide them to local restaurants and caterers.
Oh, and in his spare time he's looking to expand his flavors from mild, hot and hot kicker to include a cherry version and some that provide more heat.
The sauces can be purchased online at pourdaddysbbq.com and at many local events such as the Broadway Farmers Market in Green Bay on Wednesday nights and the Sturgeon Bay Farmers Market on Saturdays.