An unlikely business partnership took shape in Panama–and all because of a Southern accent.
Charleston, South Carolina resident Smith Anderson was working on some real estate projects in Panama several years ago when a man he was sitting beside at the airport said, “You must be from South Carolina.” Alexis Gallardo based his accurate prediction on Smith’s southern drawl. The man told Smith that he had gone to Georgia Tech and that his best friend was from Greenwood, South Carolina. His friend’s accent sounded similar to Smith’s and Gallardo picked up on that immediately.
Thus, a friendship was formed and, every time Anderson arrived in town, Gallardo would pick him up at the airport. Their chats led to some interesting information. Gallardo took over a food manufacturing facility started by his father in 1964. They produced some 40 food products including vinegar, sauces, juices, etc. and distributed them throughout Central America, South America, and the Far East.
Anderson was blown away when he tasted the fresh Latin flavors and asked Gallardo why they didn’t have their products in the U.S. The conversation led to hatching a plan to create a gourmet sauce for consumers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. From there, the 9°80° Gourmet Sauce Company was born.
“We’re completely farm to bottle,” said Anderson. Everything used in the sauces is grown on Gallardo’s farms.
Anderson came up with the flavor combinations, and Gallardo makes it happen with fresh ingredients, an all-natural gluten-free process, and his expertise in food science and manufacturing.
They began with three flavors: Picante Panama, Wild Cilantro, and Garlic Mustard, and quickly expanded to include 10 more. Some of the newest flavors include Pineapple Coconut, Smoky Chipotle, and a Sriracha. Wild Cilantro is by far the favorite. It consistently sells out. It’s followed closely by Pineapple Coconut.
Anderson says if you’re looking for a “slap-your-momma” type of hot sauce where a drop can cause incredible heat, he’ll refer you on to other brands. “We’re a gourmet sauce and marinade,” he said. “We can play in the hot sauce market, but we’re not about heat. We are a sophisticated Latin gourmet sauce made with all natural fruits and ingredients. We’re really a cooking sauce.”
The creative name of their company reflects the marriage between two continents. 9° and 80° are the geographical degrees of Panama City, Panama and Charleston, South Carolina.
Try out this recipe by the 9°80° Gourmet Sauce company:
Flank Steak with Cherry Tomato Poppers
- 1 ½ Pounds Flank Steak
- 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
- ¼ Cup Soy Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Agave Nectar (or honey)
- ¼ Cup 9°80° Picante Panama Sauce
- 1 Clove Garlic
- chopped Salt & Pepper
- Mix all ingredients and marinate steak 2 hours to overnight, depending on time.
- Salt & Pepper Steak prior to grilling
- Grill flank steak for approx 4 minutes per side to med rare over high heat on your grill.
- Let rest for 15 minutes on cutting board before slicing.
- Serve with Cherry Tomato Poppers
Cherry Tomato Poppers
- 1 package Cherry Tomatoes
- 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1-2 Tbsp 9°80° Picante Panama Sauce
- Salt & Pepper
- Place tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet in one layer.
- Drizzle with Olive oil and 9°80° Picante Panama Sauce and sprinkle with Salt & Pepper.
- Broil until cherry tomatoes begin to pop or burst and start to charr a little. Approximately 10 -15 minutes.
- Serve over sliced flank steak.