August 16, 2006

A BBQ Sauce Born in the Hamptons

George Sutton's Hampton BBQ Sauce contains a dash of his mother's wisdom, a splash of his love for cooking and is the fruits, ultimately, of a challenge.

Sutton was talking to Luke Turbiere, the owner of Claws on Wheels in East Hampton, who was unhappy with the barbecue sauce the catering company had been using. "I told him I make great BBQ sauce for chicken. He basically said, 'Make me some,'" Sutton explained. "That was the beginning of the whole process. Next thing you know Hampton BBQ Sauce was founded."

The BBQ sauce is sold at farm stands and specialty markets from Montauk to Eastport, and though the sauce carries the Hamptons name, its roots are in the South. Sutton's mother Naomi, a native of Alabama, made a version of the tangy sauce when he was a child — it was her specialty. "The BBQ sauce was about the only thing she did well. I got more of my cooking influences from my father," Sutton explained with a laugh.

Years later, when he did his own barbecuing, Sutton adapted the recipe a bit, adding more lemon juice to the base mixture of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and sugar to give it more of a kick. And people liked it. "Everyone always said, 'You should bottle this.' And guess what? It finally happened," Sutton said.

Each batch of sauce is handmade, and Sutton has put it to the ultimate test: he brought it to his mother, who gave it her seal of approval. "She liked it. She said, 'Oh it tastes like mine,'" he said.

Sutton is an avid cook — "My wife has no idea what a kitchen looks like" — and to hear him tell it, barbecuing is something of an art. Time, and plenty of it, is of the essence; Sutton suggests par boiling ribs and pre-baking chicken beforehand, and then barbecuing them for a long time at a low temperatures. "It really takes time to BBQ right," he said. His favorite summer meal is a platter of simplicity: ribs and local corn.

And though making and selling the sauce remains more of a hobby at this point, Sutton envisions something a little grander for the future of Hampton BBQ Sauce. "Hopefully I'll be the next Famous Amos, but for barbecue sauce," he said.

Call Sutton at (516) 445-3254 for more information about Hampton BBQ Sauce.

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