Y’all is for everyone
Y’all: /yahl/ Contraction of you and all that some say is not a real word (but we all know that it is).
Y’all is also a sauce. Three to be exact (for now) and it’s made locally in Winston-Salem. Now, y’all foodies know that when I tell you about a new product, I really love it, use it, and find the story behind the product (and its maker) interesting enough to bring it to you.
Y’all Sauce Co. started a year ago with the love of the Lord, bourbon, community, and food. Josh McGee and Paige Harlow originally met six years ago at a church in Kentucky where Josh’s wife was a pastor. “We loved to eat but hated our jobs and were looking for an awesome way to work together and came up with the idea of doing something with food over the course of drinking some bourbon, which always gives you the best ideas,” Paige joked.
Josh and his wife eventually moved to Winston-Salem so that she could take a pastoral position at First Baptist. Josh came from a culinary background and said, “I worked in the industry for 15 years, was a sous chef in Charleston, where I cut my culinary chops. I thought, wouldn’t it be great to pair my culinary background and her marketing background.” Around the time of the move, Josh and Paige decided to become business partners and settled on the idea of a sauce company.
But then, what in the world were they going to name their new company?
“We started with some Southern names, a spin on the Southern culture,” Josh said. “We kicked around all kinds of ideas….Southern Plated is the name of our company, but the name of the sauce? Nothing really rolled off the tongue. We were talking about community, and our identity and Paige blurts ‘y’all!’ And that was it.”
Paige said their tagline, Eat Up Y’all is the perfect slogan. “It just made sense because y’all is such an inclusive word. Y’all goes beyond gender, race, religion. We wanted to create a company that included everyone. It’s a divisive time, and it’s important to bring people together to the table and have conversation and bridge gaps.”
And in the true Baptist tradition, pair it with the community and make the conversation happen around food.
The sauce team said the move, the sauce and the city of Winston-Salem are a perfect match. “What we love about Winston-Salem is what Louisville was 10 years ago. The upswing of honing in on local restaurants, local ingredients and all these farmers doing great things. We want to tell the story and heritage of the sauce and how it brings community together.”
For now, three sauces are telling those stories, with many more stories to come. The first is the iconic Henry Bain, which Paige and Josh both discovered in Kentucky. It’s a bit of a sweet and tangy version of a barbecue sauce that Josh tweaked and modernized with a hint of bourbon. (By the way, Henry Bain was a waiter and created his namesake sauce at the Pendennis Club in 1881. How’s that for a legacy?)
The second sauce is the sweet and spicy Jezebel, which Josh said he became obsessed with in his native state, Tennessee. Jezebel is like apple butter, and marmalade meets horseradish, and though no one can really agree where Jezebel sauce comes from, Josh said, “I wanted to make it more East Tennessee with sorghum and Volunteer Orange. And I love that you can use Jezebel in different ways. Back in the day, you’d throw it on cream cheese, but now we use it to glaze hams. I like it on fried chicken, salmon and as a finishing sauce on veggies.”
I became a fan of Y’all Sauce when I scooped up the Mississippi Come Back Sauce, which is a staple in the Deep South and used so many ways such as a burger topping or as a dip for fries or tater tots. It’s like a white barbecue sauce that will have you come back (hence the name) for more. (My tip: Give it a try as the dressing on a warm potato salad.)
In the South, every sauce has a story, and the team wants to tell all of them. “The plan going forward is to have a different sauce for each Southern state, such as Trinity Sauce for Louisiana and of course a sauce that would be cool for North Carolina,” Paige said. Whatever will it be? I’m told it might be a bit more than just Eastern barbecue sauce.
“We’re both history buffs, and we love the culture here,” she added. “The South is a real mix of cultures…we want to tell the story of the different sauces. It’s exciting to keep these stories alive.”
Y’all Sauce is catching on in the area, particularly in Winston-Salem where it can now be found at Southern Home & Kitchen, Canteen Market and Bistro, Washington Perk, City Beverage, Mast General Store, and Lowes Foods.
Josh said they plan to be in front of the community as he continues to put down roots here. “The community is something so unique to Winston-Salem,” Josh said. “It’s a hub for a lot of cool things happening…from the restaurants and the farms to the craft beer scene and wineries. There’s so much great energy here, and we want to be on the forefront of that and embrace the localness.”
Kristi Maier is a food writer, blogger and cheerleader for all things local who even enjoys cooking in her kitchen, though her kidlets seldom appreciate her efforts.
Look for Josh with Y’all Sauce in Angelo’s Artisan Market at Wiseman Brewing in Winston-Salem on Nov. 11 from noon to 5 p.m., and at Southern Home & Kitchen with some cooking classes early next year. If y’all want some enjoyable reading on the stories of the sauces, or if y’all want to find out where to buy or to order online visit yallsauce.com.