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New sauce shop turns up the heat in Downtown Guelph

Open since April 1, Taste the Flavour Emporium at 58 Carden St. offers hand-crafted, all-Canadian sauces, oils, vinegars, dips, rubs, dressings, and condiments
Taste the Flavour Emporium co-owner and shop manager, Carlie Summers.

A new shop in Guelph is getting a bit more saucy these days, especially for those looking to spice things up and add ‘a kick’ to their favourite dish.

Taste the Flavour Emporium at 58 Carden St. opened on April 1st, and offers flavour or ‘fire’ with hand-crafted, all-Canadian sauces, oils, vinegars, dips, rubs, dressings, and condiments.

“We have tasted every sauce that comes into the store, and each one has to have flavour. That’s what the store is all about,” said Taste the Flavour Emporium co-owner and shop manager, Carlie Summers.

“Every sauce has something different to offer, adding that extra little something to help bring your dinner to life.”

But Taste the Flavour Emporium is not only about adding an inferno factor.

With a 50's flare, the shop carries a variety of sauces from mild to extremely hot.

“Customers can walk around our store starting with a one out ten heat level and they can work their way around until they get to sauces that are a thirteen out of ten,’ Summers said.

Taste the Flavour Emporium prides itself in offering Canadian made sauces.

“We have a sauce called Maritime Madness from P.E.I., and sauces from Saskatchewan. There are sauces from London, Woodstock, and St. Thomas. We have Tijuana Tom, and Sorry Sauce based out of Listowel and a variety of other sauces made locally.”

Summers says each sauce comes with it’s own story and brings something different to the table.

“There is one called Island Sun with flavours from Barbados, a family recipe, and is now made in Kitchener,” Summers said.

“We have another made by Canadian Mike Jack, who is a 10-time Guinness world record holder for eating the hottest peppers in the world. He started his own line of sauces through a company called Dawson’s and there's one called Taco Tuesday. It really does taste like a taco in a bottle.”

Another favourite is Smokin Hoser. And there’s also Royal Pepper with some regal options including a king, queen, knight, earl, and count variations. Tickle My Pickle is one of the store’s top sellers which goes great in a Caesar, with sour cream as a dip, or on a burger.

“We are just starting to offer dips, rubs, and dessert flavourings. So, we're really going to have some fun with that too,” Summers said.

“The oils are our own. We use grape seed oil. And then we add our ingredients, such as garlic or spicy Thai, which is great in a stir fry, on top of noodles.”

Summers says that when customers visit the shop, they are asked about their preferences in terms of heat.

“I ask them what their heat level is. Do they prefer savoury or sweet flavours, do they like more flavour first, or do they want the heat to kick in later?” Summers said.

“Every pepper affects people differently. Some peppers will take up to 30-40 seconds before you feel the heat.”

Taste the Flavour Emporium is the second location for Summers and her partner, and co-owner Lea Riddle-Pitre, who manages the original shop in St. Jacobs.

“We’ve began working together two years ago at the St. Jacobs store. Lea was just starting out as manager and I was working at the University of Guelph, about to retire. So, I said, I will come out and help you,” Summers said.

“And that’s how it all began.”

The previous shop owner, Gerry Mischuk, started the business as 'Taste the 4th Sense', offering vinegars and oils at the Fergus market, before opening a shop in St. Jacobs, 24 years ago.

“Gerry was thinking bout retiring, and we thought well, we should see if we can take over and maybe add some heat,” Summers said.  

Mischuk recently passed away.

“I worked with Gerry for the last year and a half running the business as my own, and so it was a natural progression to start a new business with a new name,” Riddle-Pitre said.

“I trademarked the Taste the 4th sense name and logo so we can carry on making oils and vinegars with that brand name as Gerry’s legacy.”

Riddle-Pitre and Summers carried on with Taste the Flavour Emporium, adding a second location in Guelph.

“This is something we both just fell in love with. It’s almost like inviting people into your kitchen,” Riddle-Pitre said.

Riddle-Pitre says Taste the Flavour Emporium is more about the experience, than just a shop.

Customers are invited to come, taste, and learn.

“You get to sample every sauce. You can come in the front door, sit at the sauce bar, and sample the sauces. I can tell you what flavours are in it, and that could help make your decision,” Summers said.

“It’s not only about selling you a sauce, but giving you ideas for recipes on how to cook with it.”

Riddle-Pitre is a baker and Summers is a retired chef. Between them, they have a number of interesting recipes.

“We offer our own cookbooks. I’m always trying to find unusual ways to use the hot sauces,” Riddle-Pitre said.

“I've even made an ice cream out of one of our maker’s hot sauce,” Riddle-Pitre said.

The best part of the business for Riddle-Pitre is the opportunity to educate customers.

“And I also enjoy offering samples. That way, we know that people are getting what they are expecting to get. They don’t get home and open a bottle that they don’t enjoy. The best part is finding something that people really do enjoy and then sharing all the possibilities including different flavour combinations and recipes," Riddle-Pitre said.

Taste the Flavour Emporium is open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.