A chat with Ben Harris, the man behind Sauce Haus, offering plant-based sauces in plastic-free pouches.
Where did the idea for Sauce Haus come from?
I was working as a lawyer in London and my work/life balance was awful! Recipe box companies deliver fresh food to your door when you haven’t got time to cook, but they take time and effort to prepare, aren’t very flexible, and there is a lot of plastic. I believe a sauce is the staple of a great meal, and if you’ve got a good base it makes cooking easier, freeing up time to do other things, while not compromising on taste. By adding one of our sauces you can turn leftover vegetables in the fridge into a delicious meal.
Did you have much cooking experience?
My family has always been keen on cooking. My Dad is passionate about Middle Eastern cuisine , and my late Grandma was in the cake business, so it must be in the genes! Our family WhatsApp group is full of photos of what we’re eating. I’ve been cooking from a very young age, and my best friends call me ‘the gourmet’!
How did the business begin?
My partner Delen and I were living in Newlyn during the first lockdown, near where Delen’s family live. I got quite obsessed with fermentations in lockdown and started making chilli sauces, just for fun. As I got more into it, I made different types of sauces. About a year later, after we moved permanently to Newlyn from Somerset, I hired a local chef to help tweak my recipes and setup Sauce Haus.
How did the business develop?
I sold to families and friends, and friends of friends, for the first six months. Then I started selling online. But I wanted to get out and meet customers, and I thought the best way to do that was to go to markets. St Ives Farmers’ Market has got the perfect mix of people — both from the community and holidaymakers — and they have a love for independent businesses. I thought it would be a great place to showcase what I’m doing. I love meeting people there — it’s just great.
Can you tell us about your sauces?
The sauces I started with were Saty, Butternut Korma, Red Thai, Black Bean, Supergreen Pasta, and Cauliflower Carbonara. They’re all plant-based, but not just aimed at vegans as you can add whatever protein or veg you like. At the markets, we also sell meat and pasta alternatives, chickpea rice, nut tofu, and vegan tortelloni. What’s really popular is chicken substitute, made entirely from pea protein. The sauces are all frozen at the moment, which means we don’t need to add preservatives and addidtives. We’re looking to offer the sauces chilled as well in the future.
Was it always part of the plan to use eco-friendly packaging?
Definitely. Recipe boxes tend to use a lot of that single-use plastic, and I didn’t want to do that, so I sourced home-compostable packaging made from corn starch and cassava bark. Sauce Haus’ claims are certified by a third party (Ethy). All our labels are compostable, too, and we even make our own ice packs, because you can’t buy plastic-free ice packs yet.
What are your plans now?
Apart from steady growth and expanding the sauce range, I would like to keep interacting with customers and building support within the community. I’m applying for Truro Farmers’ Market and looking into Sennen — as I’ve heard it’s really good — and a new plastic-free market in Falmouth. We’re in Archie Brown’s in Penzance now, and it would be awesome one day to see my sauces on a supermarket shelf.
• Visit saucehaus.co.uk/ for more information and recipes.