Nelsonites know it’s market season when you can hear the words “couscous, hot sauce” echoing down Baker Street.
The man behind the couscous and hot sauce is Edmond Segbeaya of Ebesse Zozo.
Segbeaya said that normally he is not a cook but he caught the attention of staff at the Kootenay Co-op when he was buying cases of habenero peppers.
“They asked me why I bought that many peppers for myself and they said you can make a living with that,” he said. “They asked me to make it for sale at the store and I started in 2002.”
Until Segbeaya began making his hot sauce for the Co-op cooking was just a hobby, but he said he has loved spicy food since he was a child.
“I love hot food and my mom tells me that when I was two months old I started begging for hot food from people,” he said. “My hot sauce is a old family recipe that I developed when I came to Canada.
Segbeaya was born and raised in Togo, West Africa and attended university in the country’s capital.
When Ebesse Zozo began, Segbeaya was only making one variety of hot sauce, his hottest one.
“It was so hot that people were crying and that caught the attention of the media,” he said. “After that I made the medium, which was still hot so I made a mild and extra mild.”
There is also another version of the hot called Red Hot, which has tomatoes.
Segbeaya also recently introduced his jerk sauce, which includes a fish powder that he had to import from Togo.
“Soon I will be introducing my coconut cream marinades which includes the hot sauce,” he said.
In Segbeaya’s Nelson kitchen where he makes the sauce there are boxes full of awards he’s one for the hottest hot sauces.
“I started making the sauce and at the same time I was taking a business administration course at Selkirk College,” he said “One morning I was getting ready to go to school and I received a call from Dallas, Texas from the chile pepper awards. They asked me if I was Edmond, and if I make hot sauce and they invited me to bring my sauce for the contest and exhibit at the trade show.”
With the help of community fundraising and help from his family, Segbeaya was able to go to Dallas to compete.
Ebesse Zozo took home third place out of 800 hot sauces.
Since then Segbeaya has gone on to collect numerous other awards.
For more information on Ebesse Zozo visit awassi.net