By Anika Shah
Gaston Merideth, a resident of Brandon, is the owner of Chef G’s Florida BarBQ Sauce. Although available online, Merideth’s sauces can now be found locally at the Fields & Table of Riverview and Olivor Heritage Farms in Dover.
It all started when Merideth realized that his catering clients really liked his barbecue sauce, yet he couldn’t take credit for it because it technically wasn’t his base. Delving into the world of sauces, he found that while states like Texas, the Carolinas, Kansas and Alabama had their trademark palates, Florida did not.
Merideth spoke on his thought process: “In our state, most of the cuisine comes from other areas … we have Cuban sandwiches and key lime pie, but very limited Florida cuisine … so I said if I make one, I will make it conducive to our state, use ingredients that grows in our state and make it an efficient barbecue sauce.”
Certainly living up to his vision, Merideth uses strawberries from Plant City whenever possible, hot datil peppers from St. Augustine and Florida tomatoes and citrus. He formally launched online three years ago and decided to manufacture it on his own for the integrity of quality. Merideth detailed, “I went to the Florida website and the FDA website to see what I need to become a certified manufacturer to produce my own barbecue sauce without using a co-packer.” It took one and a half years to become a certified manufacturer.
There are currently four varieties of Chef G’s BarBQ Sauce: Classic, Florida Gold (Honey Mustard), Heatwave and a formula of all three called Fusion. Merideth’s personal favorite is the Fusion.
Apart from barbecue, Merideth has extensive culinary experience. After being a chef in the U.S. Coast Guard for four years, he took continuing education classes at the Culinary Institute of America and worked as a chef at Universal Studios. He also taught culinary arts at Manatee Technical College and wrote for the Sam’s Club newsletter. Now, he owns his own catering company, Gaston’s Culinary Services. Last year, he won the American Culinary Federation’s prestigious Chef of the Year award for Tampa Bay.
For now, Merideth is selling at stores only in the Tampa Bay community and hopes to slowly expand. “I always believe when you start locally it will take you globally,” he said.
To order and for more information, visit https://flbbqsauce.com or call 280-2257.