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EPICURIOUS: When life gives you lemons, make hot sauce

Whistler entrepreneurs behind Spcy Grls hot sauces haven’t let pandemic slow them down
FD-Epicurious 27.40 SUBMITTED
Spcy Grls founders Amie Comerford and Kirby Emmett were planning to launch their food truck this summer until the pandemic forced them to adapt on the fly. Photo submitted

Amie Comerford and Kirby Emmett, the friends-turned-business partners behind the delectable line of Whistler-made Spcy Grls hot sauces, had big plans for 2020. 

“We wanted to do a food truck this year because of the markets but that sadly got disrupted because of COVID,” explained Comerford. 

So, like most entrepreneurs who’ve been forced to adapt to the new COVID reality, they had no choice but to make lemonade out of lemons. Or, in their case, hot sauce out of chiles (OK, that wasn’t the best metaphor.) 

“[COVID] has really affected us just because of the markets. There’s no Christmas market this year and a lot of our big markets have been cancelled,” explained Comerford. “It’s given us time to innovate and try new things and hopefully in 2021, we’ll come back bigger and better.” 

With limited market opportunities, the women decided it best to sell their food truck and essentially “recreate their business plan,” Comerford said. That meant finding another kitchen space to complete the transition into hot food, which they had already been planning.
Serving out of The Corner Deli on Main Street since mid-August, Spcy Grls now offer handmade tacos, pierogies, and crispy rollups paired with their own line of hot sauces. They’ve also recently started selling their frozen dumplings on Whistler Dine-In, with plans to offer hot food through the delivery service soon. 

“We just wanted to give people a reason to use our hot sauce and show them how you can make different flavours,” Comerford said. “Everything we cook is made from our hot sauce, so, for example, all the pulled chicken for the tacos is made from our original Lil’ Mama’s Hot Sauce.” 

The pandemic hasn’t slowed down Spcy Grls’ expansion plans either, with a line of five new sauces being rolled out in the coming weeks to go along with the half-dozen original flavours you can find everywhere locally from Whistler Brewing Company to Nesters (they also sell their sauces at specific locations in Squamish and on Vancouver Island). 

The pair drew on some familiar faces for inspiration for the new sauces, with all five created and named after one of Comerford and Emmett’s friends (in fact, Emmett’s partner also graces one of the bottles). There’s the King George BBQ Sauce they created in honour of their Aussie friend who is obsessed with Australian barbecue shake mix. Then there’s the Berry Sweet St. Vincent, made with raspberries, habanero peppers, and gin in honour of their friend Vince who “makes us do gin shots whenever we go out,” Comerford noted. Or how about Prince Q’s Jerk Spice, named after their half-Jamaican, spice-loving friend who also happens to be a bit of a jerk. 

“The whole line is actually called the Salt Lord Collection because they’re all salty old men,” Comerford said with a laugh. 

Ever the optimists, Emmett and Comerford are already looking ahead to a post-COVID landscape when they will be able to dish out their food in person. 

“We just need a bus or a barbecue and we can make tacos and steam some dumplings,” Comerford added.
To check out Spcy Grls products, visit