An internationally acclaimed hot sauce saw humble beginnings at the Lethbridge Heritage Day
Ethnic Food Fair and local farmers market. Working from the 55-year-old recipe of his Guyanese grandmother,
Basil Simmons, his wife Hilda and daughter Margaret developed a condiment that represented the perfect fusion
of ingredients from the Guyana and Alberta.
With the mango and Jamaican Scotch bonnet pepper providing the fruit and heat of
Simmons southern home, it would take the mellow nature of Alberta mustard, onion, cucumber and canola
oil to complete the taste sensation.
While immigration to Canada offered many things to the Simmons family, good hot sauce
was not one of them, explains Basil on his website. "When my family and I immigrated to Canada, we joked
for years about making our own hot sauce as we had difficulty finding one that lived up to the reputation
of being hot and flavourful. I had continued making the hot sauce as I had learned from Grandma for our own
use, but decided to refine the recipe by adding more ingredients suitable to our own taste. The result of
this experiment was an absolutely delicious tasting sauce!"
He retired as a federal inspector in 1998, and at the suggestion of his co-workers who
had tasted his version of his grandmothers specialty, set up a company with his wife Hilda and daughter
Margaret to produce and market the product.
In 2001, the result was a trio of hot foods victories in the United States, a development
that brought the Simmons family attention from the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Saudi Arabia. At
the time the Simmons did not have a distributor outside Canada, and were selling the condiment only through
The publicity from the awards caught the attention of the Overwaitea Food Group of
Vancouver, the parent company of the Save-On Foods chain, and today, the product can be found throughout
Canada through Save-On, Sobeys, IGA, Sunterra Foods and a multitude of specialty shops. With the increased
business both in and outside Alberta, the family moved its production from a small commercial kitchen in
Lethbridge to the federal food processing centre at Leduc.
However, the Lethbridgeand, indeed Guyaneseroots are not forgotten. Basil and his
family still maintain the website (www.firenbrimstone.com), and offer their products on the Internet, just
like the old days.
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