Newmarket husband and wife duo are expanding to sell at local markets, including Market 400 in Innisfil
Marc Slater is no stranger to making hot sauces. He’s been doing it from home for over a decade, however, in the past two years he’s grown it into a full-fledged business based in Newmarket.
Her love of spicy food dates back to her youth.
“I’ve always liked the hot stuff. I’m a quarter Guyanese, so maybe it comes from that too,” he said. “You know, growing up as a teenager, young adult, all those hot wing challenges.”
About 15 years ago, he says, he first decided to try his hand at making his own hot sauce.
“I’ve always loved cooking, so I decided to start making my own sauces,” he said.
For a while, Slater made them just for fun and shared them with friends and family, but people started encouraging him to make a business out of it.
“People have always bothered me saying ‘hey you should sell it,'” he said. “The more people tried it, the more they liked it, so we thought we’d give it a shot and started in December 2020.”
Slater and his wife, Emily, launched Need the Heat and began selling by word of mouth. He said they spent the first year or so selling on a smaller scale and “building our recipes and preparing the processes.”
They have expanded to selling at local markets, more regularly at Market 400 in Innisfil and online. Building an e-commerce site was one of the easier parts for Slater, who is a web developer by trade.
While this aspect of the business came easily, starting a food business meant a lot of learning for the couple.
“Going into the food business, there was a big learning curve. I had some really good mentors and I was able to reach out and kind of get over those hurdles. But it was starting from an industry service-based, which I’m still a part of, to now physical products – and not just physical products but food products. It’s really been a big challenge for us,” he said.
Despite the challenges, the couple found themselves in a profession where there is a lot of demand. Slater said hot sauce appeals to people, whether it’s adding heat or enhancing flavor.
“For me, I have to have heat with everything, hence the name Need the Heat. If I have my breakfast and I don’t have hot sauce on it, I feel like I have missed something and there are a lot of people like that,” he said.
He said he and Emily will pair the hot sauce with any meal of the day and that an entire door of their refrigerator is specially dedicated to spicy condiments. But with their business, it’s not just about the level of spice, but also the taste of the sauces.
“Now, especially with our sauces, we focus on flavor first,” he said.
The majority of Need the Heat products are fruit-based. The first flagship sauce, as Slater called it, is Pine In My Arse, made with pineapple.
“I wanted something that really starts out like a bit of salsa and then gets that heat,” he said.
He started from a vegetable base but needed to bring a little sweetness to the recipe. Not wanting to add sugar, he transformed a Caribbean vibe and brought in pineapple. When they started selling the sauce and he saw how popular it was, he decided to try other fruits as well.
Now Need the Heat sells one called That’ll Peach Ya and another called Mango Unchained. Slater, who is also a dad, said the fun names are inspired by dad jokes and that it’s a fun product to start with.
“Hot sauces are such a fun product and [people] have so much fun with it. Like I get refused so many times to offer people samples and you know what, it rolls over your back because it’s a fun product and even when people say no they laugh ‘oh, no, no , no, I can’t do that.’ So why not have fun with it all? That’s why I started with those names,” he said.
One of the other products, which is called Candied Menace, is one of their best sellers. They’re candied jalapenos, so it’s their only non-fruit-based item, but it’s one of their top sellers.
“It’s our mildest product, but it’s by far our most popular product and it could be in tandem with that because people want that flavor but they want that bit of heat,” he said. declared.
Slater said their jalapenos go well with charcuterie boards, which are very popular now. For the peach sauce, which he says is more like a chutney, it goes well with samosas and they actually sell out with The Samosa Master in Newmarket. For the mango sauce, he says, it works great with grilled fish like salmon or trout. As for the original pineapple hot sauce, this one is particularly versatile.
“Pineapple, I can put that on anything,” he said.
On their website, they have a blog section where they share more ideas on how to use hot sauce and various peppers, and more information about them in general. The site really became Slater’s main business, along with some of the other administrative duties, while Emily became the primary product manager.
“She’s pretty much the main cook now because I’m focusing on my strengths. You know the marketing…the website and all the stuff that allows her to work on the production and push it all along,” he said. -he declares.
Need the Heat recently moved into a commercial kitchen and the business has grown to the point where Emily was able to quit her job as a personal trainer a few months ago and focus on it full time.
Slater said he was surprised at how much he had grown in just two years.
“Maybe it’s a testament to the sauces themselves and especially the community here…some of the people I sell to say, ‘I don’t even like hot sauce, but I like to support the local, so just give me your best-selling one,” he said. “We have a lot of loyal customers. Our customers are amazing. And again, everyone is having fun with it, so it’s not a hard product to get.”
With fall and the holidays approaching, Need the Heat has released Cranky Cranny, a seasonally available cranberry and habanero sauce designed to spice up a festive feast.
You can buy the products directly online or find out where to buy in person by visiting the Need the Heat website.