It was almost one year ago that Kira Horton entered, by chance, her homemade pepper sauce into the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival’s first pepper sauce competition, and never in her wildest dreams did she imagine she would win the competition and less than a year later, have a stable of products under her Wildcrafted Base Pepper Sauces and Seasonings line.
“I was actually representing my first brand, Bentonite Beauty Clay, at the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival in February 2019, and saw an email stating they were adding a pepper sauce competition component to the festival. So when I saw it, I turned around and got extra samples of pepper sauce out of my refrigerator that I had from a Bentonite Beauty Clay spa party the weekend prior. They were already packaged and ready to go and actually had the Bentonite label on them. I dropped it off and honestly didn’t think about it. They came and got me at 4 o’clock because they were having the judging. I was there clowning around, cracking jokes and having fun with it, and then I won – and I was like ‘oh! Okay, what’s next?’.”
What was next was the “lightbulb” going off for Horton and that chance win being turned into a full-fledged pepper sauces and seasonings business.
“I didn’t even have a name for my pepper sauce, so it was just wild,” she recalled.
Since then, Horton has developed a business that now features three pepper sauces with varying degrees of heat: the milder Original Blend with which she won the competition, Sunny Heat and Wildfire – with Sunny Heat being the middle ground heat sauce between the Original Blend and her Wildfire.
The Original Blend, which she won the competition with, featured a combination of peppers – goat pepper, Bahamian chilis and bird peppers – and is a recipe that she said is true to the recipe today and for all three of the pepper sauces in her line.
While she entered the competition by chance, Horton says her ability to make a tasty pepper sauce isn’t by chance, as she’s been experimenting in the kitchen and cooking since her early teenage years and developed a strong palate for flavors and taste profiles, and has always made her own pepper sauces and seasonings.
Wildfire was the second sauce she launched approximately three weeks after winning the competition because people started requesting a hotter sauce. She gave it to them while keeping in mind that she didn’t want to present an offensive heat, but to give them a hotter sauce that was palatable and savory.
“Those that enjoy heat really enjoy Wildfire because it’s not just hot – it’s also flavorful.”
She then sought a middle ground sauce between the Original Blend and Wildfire and launched Sunny Heat, which she said has a flavor profile that complements a variety of meals, and is excellent when incorporated in foods such as potato salad, macaroni and cheese and even scrambled eggs.
The warmer Wildfire, which gives a more intense heat profile, she said is an excellent complement for fried wings, snapper, the base of your peas n’ rice, stews and soups, adding a savory, spicy profile.
Her Wildfire pepper sauce is also featured in a chocolate chip ice cream named “Bongue on Fire” at Chef Wayne Moncur’s Sun & Ice ice cream parlor in the Coral Tower at the Atlantis. The “Bongue on Fire” ice cream is an ode to the song “Who Put the Pepper in the Vaseline”.
“The ice cream has really been a great success at Sun & Ice because it’s a really popular flavor. The Wildfire gives it a really good savory heat – a nice sweet heat,” said Horton.
Her pepper sauces are also featured table condiments at the Tiki Bikini Hut.
Her Sunny Heat Pepper Sauce was selected by Chef Simeon Hall at his “Ignite!” event last year to pair with his specialty sausage which was reminiscent of the salty sausage of her childhood.
At the time, the sauce didn’t have a name and Horton simply referred to it as a mystery flavor.
Around the time she launched the Wildfire sauce, Horton also added seasonings. She has an Original Blend Hot Pepper Seasoning to complement the pepper sauce. Today, she has a seasoning to complement each of her hot pepper sauces.
She also offers a habanero-infused honey, which she’s named the Spice Royale; and a Sunny Honey Wild and Wicked BBQ Glaze, a profile that offers a hint of sweet from the honey and a hint of spice from the habanero, which she says is perfect on fried wings and pork chops, and can be used as a glaze or marinade when grilling or even as a base for jerk.
Horton also offers a hot pepper brandy tonic, which can be used in chowders, stews, curries and bisques to add a bolder flavor and fragrant scent. She refers to it as the Bahamian umami. And umami is the fifth basic taste, which was discovered by the Japanese.
She’s also taken soursop and blended it with tequila for her Soursop Elixir. She says two teaspoons a day is all a person needs. This is the one item in her offerings that does not feature pepper or spice.
As she looks back at how far she’s come in less than a year, Horton said 2019 has been crazy and very busy for Wildcrafted Base Pepper Sauces and Seasonings. She said the “lightbulb” didn’t go off for her for what she could do with her pepper sauces until the week after the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival after she got a telephone call to have her pepper sauces displayed at Atlantis’ ArtWalk.
“Ms. Burnside said I have an opening at ArtWalk and it’s this weekend, and I said, ‘Ms. Burnside I don’t even have banners, I don’t have any branding, I’m just deciding on what I’m going to call it.’ She said, ‘You’ll figure out something. I’ll put you down.’ I was wingin’ it. I was building it off the fly and developing it off the cuff, making it up as I went along, and I’m still doing that. I’m finding some branding now because I can see a bigger version and my vision honestly is so large for this,” she said.
Horton was also able to showcase her product at The Village Market in Atlanta in July. Since then, she said it’s been a whirlwind of developing new ideas and experimenting.
Wildcrafted Base Hot Pepper Sauces and Seasonings currently can be found in Atlantis gift stores and at Tasty Teas on Delancy Street. Horton also pops up at various events throughout the year. Her products can also be ordered via her page Wildcrafted Base on Facebook as well as Instagram.
Her products can also be found at Eula Nixon’s Convenience Store, Pleasant Bay, Andros; The Dilly Dally Gift Store, Harbour Island, Eleuthera; and Grand Isle Resort & Spa Sundry Convenience Store, Farmer’s Hill, Exuma.
EASY WILDCRAFTED BASE WILDFIRE DRUMSTICKS
Wildcrafted Base Original Blend Hot Pepper Seasoning
Wildcrafted Base Wildfire Hot Pepper Sauce
Season chicken drumsticks liberally with the Wildcrafted Base Hot Pepper Seasoning and coat with a moderate amount of Wildfire Hot Pepper Sauce. Grill at 375 degrees.
WILDCRAFTED SHRIMP TACOS
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Wildcrafted Base Hot Pepper Seasoning
1 tablespoon Wildcrafted Base Original Blend Hot Pepper Sauce
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Toss ingredients, coating evenly. Grill or saute shrimp, making certain not to overcook. Top your tacos as desired.