Stephen Scurr and Nicholas Forrest embraced their mutual love for Mexican food while working together on the Bonnie Burrito food truck, which was founded by Nicholas on Lauriston Place in the capital in 2015.
The pair quickly realised they weren’t alone in their love for Latin cuisine and as demand for their food truck grew, they decided to expand the business after securing a more permanent spot in the Newington area.
Stephen, who was studying at the University of Edinburgh, continued to split his time between working on his dissertation and helping Nick run the food truck and South Clerk Street store.
Inspired by the popularity of their in-house hot sauce and the fact customers were often coming to the store and food truck to ask if they could buy a small tub or bottle of Bonnie Sauce to take home, a new venture was born.
The two decided Stephen should begin work on perfecting their recipes with a view to potentially creating a new Scottish product that would see their popular Bonnie hot sauce enjoyed in homes up and down the country.
Stephen explained: “We were hugely surprised by their popularity. We never imagined the reaction we’d get from our customers.
"From the humble beginnings of using the sauces just in our stores and customers raving about them to Sainsbury’s deciding to take on our brand, every step of the journey has surprised us by how extraordinary everyone has been with their passion for Bonnie Sauce.”
As he was preparing to graduate in 2017, Stephen was working behind the scenes to complete the hot sauce project with Nick – designs were finalised, recipes tweaked and tested and, finally, batches were ready to be bottled. As well as being nut and gluten free and vegan friendly, each of the flavours created by the duo has a unique story.
The Jalapeno & Lime was created by Nick for the launch of the original food truck, while the Fiery Scotch Bonnet was added shortly after, thanks to a customer named Jane, who provided her own family recipe for the boys to use.
Mango & Habanero was created to complete the initial set of three, complementing the first two as well as finalising a traffic light spiciness sytem to the offerings with green being mild, yellow being hot and red being seriously fiery.
The final offering, the Smoky Chipotle, was made by Nick’s mother Ann as a promotion for the launch of their store on South Clerk Street, and due to its popularity was eventually added to the core range.
Nick added: “We created our sauces because we are extremely passionate about great tasting, all-natural hot sauce. We don’t want hot sauces that have lots of unnatural chemicals. We didn’t want to feed our customers – or indeed, ourselves – with unnatural chemicals by offering them some alternative, substandard hot sauce.”
The Bonnie Sauce Co. products proved to be so popular that major retailers were soon interested.
Now the full handmade range is available on Sainsbury’s shelves across Scotland.
Stephen has urged hot sauce fans to support smaller Scottish businesses like them, adding: “It’s been a terrific effort from everyone at The Bonnie Sauce Co. to get us to this point, but now the hard work really begins.
“We’ve got our foot in the door, we just need to make sure sales go well enough and customers enjoy our sauces enough to ensure more people across Scotland can enjoy them.”