Like all of the finest foods, our sauces were born out of three things: desire, necessity, and a passion for fantastic flavour.
As busy chefs, we are always striving to find the best ways to prepare and serve the food we love, and sauces are integral in our kitchen. When we first started out on our journey into Latin cuisine, we quickly realised quality homemade sauces would be fundamental to our success.
Sauces often feel like an additional extra in British cuisine; an afterthought that embellishes a dish, or a nice-to-have accompaniment for occasional dipping. But in Spanish and South American food, sauce is everything. Whether it is being poured, cooked in, marinated or dipped into, sauce is always involved in good tapas.
In search of our sauce
Back at the turn of the new millennium, when the Internet was still in nappies and social media barely even a thing, doing your own research was vital. So when planning the launch of our Viva Cuba restaurant in Leeds, we took it upon ourselves to fly half way around the world, guided by our tastebuds.
Across Old Havana, the original heart of Cuba’s capital, we visited bar upon bar, restaurant after restaurant, and every diner, street food stall and snack hut we could find, sampling all manner of tapas and all the traditional foods we could get our lips around.
Fresh ingredients were a common theme among the very best of our discoveries, as were the long-practiced cooking techniques that form a vital part of Cuban people’s heritage. Many of these recipes and techniques originated outside of Cuba, with historic Spanish cuisine providing much inspiration.
But everywhere we went, proprietors, waiters and cooks would talk to us about the sauces that held the secrets to their sumptuous flavours, and we returned to Yorkshire with that firmly in our minds.
Back in the kitchen
After arriving back home we set to work, putting together a menu that would bring the very best of authentic Cuban and Spanish cuisine to our clientele in Yorkshire.
We began combining the spices and herbs that lay at the heart of the most tantalising dishes we sampled on our travels, and a particular blend worked with a number of the plates we wanted to serve.
Smoked paprika, garlic, onion, fresh tomato, and just the right amount of sugar came together to create the sweet, smoky flavour that puts our Red Mojo Sauce in a league of its own, and it has been a huge hit ever since it entered our cooking.
The popularity of our Red Mojo Sauce led us to seek a blend of ingredients that would complement fish, chicken and salads as beautifully as the red sauce goes with burgers, nachos and fries.
Before long, we had hit upon the Green Mojo Sauce, which involves plenty of green peppers, parsley, coriander and cumin in its careful preparation. All those delicious greens give the sauce its unmistakeably vibrant colour, and its flavour works wonderfully with vast swathes of our menu.
Both the red and green sauces were painstakingly refined by our chefs, who knew that investing hours in getting them right would save many more when it came to preparing and serving future dishes.
Flavours of the future
Over the course of nearly two decades, our sauces have become so popular that demand has taken them out of the kitchen and onto the shelves of shops and supermarkets.
We are incredibly proud of our Mojo Sauce, but we’re not resting on our laurels. Our quest to find new and ever-more exciting flavours continues as we aim to change the world, one tasty dollop at a time.