Last April, when Capt. David Gunn was looking for work on a yacht, he put his information on bottles of homemade hot sauce and handed them out like business cards. The label said Old Capt. David’s Peculiar Sauce, Yacht Hunting Variety, and listed his credentials.
“He didn’t get a job but people asked about the sauce,” his wife, Stew Tracey Gunn, said.
To fulfill the requests for the fiery orange sauce with flecks of red and white, the couple started researching how to commercially make their recipe.
But what to name the company?
The Gunns brainstormed for a name by revisiting their history together, starting from the day they met as dive instructors at Dive Provo in Turks and Caicos in 2001.
“Back then, we hated each other, couldn’t be in same room, but we were made to be on same boat,” Tracey said.
In spite of that, they worked well together but eventually went their separate ways. They came back together in 2008 when David asked Tracey to join him on a yacht. The two worked together on M/Y Escape, a 100-foot Broward, and M/Y Pasttime, a 90-foot Broward.
It was during this time that they got a call to save a macaw.
Indigo the bird served as crew with the couple on the Browards. Soon, they added two more, Holly-Berry and Sasha.
As they pondered themes for their hot sauces that had to do with boats, gardens and even professional-sounding names like Gunn Gourmet, the squawking talking birds weighed in. Friends called Indigo the feisty parrot.
“Indigo will bump you and say ‘ouch’,” David said. “When he’s put in the cage he says, ‘What did I do?’ He is cantankerous.”
So that’s how Indigo became the symbol of Feisty Parrot Gourmet Hot Sauce and how each logo is an artist’s rendering of the bird.
“We wanted a brand we can expand when we have shelf real estate, and reviewers like how the logo changes with the sauce,” David said. “Plus lots of hot sauces refer to hot bottoms and satan, but we wanted ours to be family friendly.”
Hot sauce creations started because both Gunns cook and David grew so many peppers there was no more space in the house to freeze or dehydrate them.
“He has a hydroponic system and was supposed to grow vegetables for us and the birds,” Tracey said. “But he mostly grows peppers.”
To date they have professionally bottled two varieties, the scorcher is Savage Beast, made with two of the world’s hottest and most expensive varieties, ghost peppers and Trinidad scorpion peppers.
Their second label is Demented Canary, a tamer version created especially for Tracey from the same recipe using less pepper.
The recipes are blended with carrot, celery, papaya, apple juice, cider vinegar lime, tequila and garlic. They use no preservatives, additives, extract or mash.
The recipes are created at home and shared with friends for feedback. When perfected, the recipe goes to a South Florida bottler for a test batch. When that is perfected, it is multiplied to make a 95-gallon batch.
Orders are coming in from crew and the industry.
“I am currently an addict to the Feisty Parrot hot sauces and have been since the day David brought us the first sample,” said Julie Liberatore, manager of student administration at Maritime Professional Training.
The Gunns will launch Feathered Fury in January using Scotch bonnet peppers. The label features Indigo wearing the Gunn clan family tartan and the plan is to launch several more by next year’s Ft. Lauderdale boat show. To learn more, visit www.feistyparrot.com.
Dorie Cox is associate editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.