Debbie Fitzerman and her husband David have been in the Information Technology (IT) sector for many years. A few years ago, she suffered a leg injury that led to her spending some time in a convalescent home, and she decided that it was time to reconsider living in a 2-story home in Thornhill, north of Toronto.
A real estate friend of hers recommended looking for a home in the Kingston area. There were a lot of options for them, since all they really needed in order to carry on their IT business was a decent internet connection. With children in both Kingston and Ottawa, they started looking in and around. When Debbie was shown a log home on the Leland Road just outside of Perth Road village, she decided this was the place for them, and David agreed. Since arriving in 2015 they have both jumped into the local community. Debbie is volunteering to bring IT to the public outreach at the nearby Elbow Lake Environmental Centre and has joined two fiddle ensembles and David is a member of the South Frontenac volunteer fire department.
It is her curiosity about the local community and an interest in all things entrepreneurial that has led Debbie to attend an event put on by the Frontenac CFDC a couple of years ago. A representative from the Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre (OAFVC) in Northumberland County was speaking about the state-of-the-art commercial kitchen they have opened near Brighton for the artisanal food industry.
This sparked an idea for Debbie, because David had developed a BBQ sauce years earlier, one that was always in demand from family and friends who had tasted it.
“It really was Ann Prichard and the CFDC who are responsible for this business starting up,” said Debbie, when interviewed late last week over charcoal BBQ’ d chicken glazed with original flavour and maple root beer DFC sauce.
“I went to that meeting out of curiosity. It was only during the talk that I thought to myself ‘why not see what would be involved in bringing the sauce to market,’ since everyone loves it.”
And that’s how DFC sauces were born.
David Fitzerman is a very particular kind of cook.
“I’m kind of OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder] about how I employ the scientific method when developing recipes. I start with the math. I once spent 2 days making micro two cookie batches, developing the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. This was a long time ago, but I still use the same exact recipe today. I can tell you how many chips there are in each cookie,” David said.
“When it came to the sauce, I worked the same way when I first developed it, and when adjusting for commercial sized batches. It has taken even more work as we have been sourcing superior local ingredients for the sauces since we began commercial production.”
The Fitzerman’s travel 90 minutes to Brighton for half day production runs at the OAVC kitchen whenever they need a new batch of sauce.
“It’s a distance for us to travel for sure, but the equipment is all there for cooking and packaging and it works for us,” said Debbie.
“And it has an HACCP (Hazardous Analysis and Critical Control Points) approved kitchen, which is something we appreciate,” said David.
The sauce is marketed mostly through word of mouth. The growing network of food sellers and food events promoted by both the CFDC and the #Infrontenac brand have been helpful to DFC sauce.
The sauce is available at Ormsbees mercantile (and the syrup in the maple root beer sauce comes from Ormsbees as well) Glenburnie Grocery, The Sydenham and Verona Foodland stores, Gilmour’s meats, Food Less Traveled, Seed to Sausage, Smart’s Marina and other locations in the region.
It is also available in Ottawa at the Seed to Sausage Store, and is one of the Frontenac County products that is being featured at the new Seed to Sausage food shop in Newmarket, near Toronto.
“We feel that we are part of something by working with the local community, and we are sourcing ingredients locally when we can as well. We use fresh garlic powder made by a garlic producer in Perth, and while it costs a lot more, the difference in flavour is significant,” said David.
DFC sauces, both the original, spicy sauce (with bourbon) and the maple root beer sauce, bring a lot of flavour to any kind of meat without being overly sweet or salty. A third variety is being planned. It is a departure of sorts, since it is a coconut-chili-lime sauce for more oriental influenced dishes.
The Fitzerman’s don’t know where they will take DFC sauces over the next couple of years. Sales have been growing and while it is not as easy to make money selling sauce as in IT, “it is a lot more fun,” said Debbie. “And we are encouraged because people who use our sauces once are always looking for more.”