South Mouth Sauce Co. began in 2014, but its story has been a lifetime in the making. The idea was born long before Chuck, and Paul Ragan, Jon Gaunt, and Chad Dolezal met each other, however the circumstances that brought them together as are unique and bold as the sauces they would eventually create. Many people know Chuck Ragan as the co-frontman of the long-running punk act Hot Water Music as well as a successful solo artist, however, few fans are aware that the Ragan’s were raised on gumbo, étouffée, boudin, BBQ and old Florida cooking. In fact, Chuck and Paul—who grew up in Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana and Florida—were seasoning fish and game the duo harvested themselves when they weren't on the road exploring different cuisines with their Cajun mother who worked as an entertainer.
"Making sauce and dips has always been something me and Paul have done; we used to pull everything out of the fridge when we were little and make up our ideal dipping sauce when shrimp or crawfish were on the menu," Chuck recalls. Although Chuck eventually relocated to the West Coast, he and Paul never stopped growing peppers, talking sauce and trading recipes. "We had always spoken about doing a family recipe book or creating a sauce company, but the initial effort didn't begin until early 2014," he explains.
Chuck's travels as a musician introduced him to countless friends in the service industry as well as fiddle player Jon Gaunt, who quickly became a staple of Ragan's live and recording career and also shares his love of the spice. "I don't know if I even appreciated the food I ate in my early twenties as much as I needed an excuse for something to cover in hot sauce," Gaunt says. "Nowadays it isn't a competition, which is why we wanted to create a table sauce that lends flavor to the food you love and love to the food you create."
The final piece of the puzzle was Dolezal, who has worked in kitchens in Portland, Oregon, and Nuits-St-George, France, at Le Gentilhommiere. "At those places, I learned the importance of finding the best ingredients possible and using the surrounding areas as an inspiration for food," he explains. Chuck and Gaunt linked up with Dolezal when they stopped to eat at his restaurant The Hightower in Austin, Texas, and then he offered to lend his kitchen and expertise to help create a sauce that would blend their palettes to create something that would appeal to both gourmets as well as simple lovers of flavor. Soon after the ball got moving, roles changed within the company, and Chad Dolezal became the true backbone of the company he generously offered to help. Ragan and Dolezal then worked together hand in hand to create and evolve the company known today. Both were believing that nothing great comes easy, they stuck with building the company through everything from failed attempts with multiple co-packers both unreliable and unlucky, sudden life-altering tragedies to the derailing joy of seeing their children born. Through it all, they stuck with their original vision and ethic to work hard no matter what, to bring something worthwhile to the tables of homes, restaurants, campuses, and bars worldwide.
"This is something we are bringing to South Mouth, using quality ingredients from responsible sources that we can stand behind with pride as well as using the areas we grew up in as a guide to the flavors in the sauce."
As you might imagine, the process of creating South Mouth's Americana Sauce was strenuous because the company's flagship sauce had to reflect four collective visions and experiences. "We spent countless hours on consistency, color, acidity, heat level and many other factors and elements," Chuck explains. "One very important aspect was being able to confidently stand behind the farmers who grow the ingredients that go into and will continue to go into our products. To me, whole and healthy food for myself and loved ones are about as important as anything else in life." Correspondingly both sauces effortlessly compliment a wide range of fare and provide a flavor that will enhance your family's food without alienating anyone.
Hopefully South Mouth “Americana” and “Fried Green Tomato Sauce” will bring you back to the tastes that defined the same way it does for Gaunt when he reminisces about his grandmother's one-of-a-kind cooking. "It was a very conscious decision as to why we call our flagship Americana Sauce a table sauce rather than a hot sauce," Chuck summarizes when asked what separates Americana & FGT from the myriad of other spicy concoctions available these days.
"Not to say we won't kick up the heat down the road, but I wanted something that my mother would love, and my mother-in-law wouldn't run away from!"