When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. At least that’s what professional chef Doug Foss did after injuring his leg so badly his knee was turned nearly backwards. Feeling the nerve pain and the isolation so terrible, he willed himself to do anything to take his mind off them.
“From my living room couch, now hospital bed, I cleared the coffee table of all the pain meds, and I somehow folded up the bedcovers,” says Foss. “They would be out of sight till night time.”
Not knowing what he would do when he got there, Foss inched to the kitchen to do one of the things he loved most. Assessing the pantry, he focused on a simple staple his family always enjoyed: marinara.
“My wife Ally, who is Italian, is my inspiration. She makes an awesome sauce!” Basic with just five ingredients, his that day included gobs of garlic so generous they speckled the jar’s bright cardinal hue. “I’m Norwegian,” says Foss, “but I took a spoonful and it was good!”
Later that night Ally and their two kids concurred; now they dish up Foss Sauce several times weekly in their home. “It’s terrific as is,” says Foss, “or use in your own recipes. I have no plans for more flavors, but add shrimp, veggies, whatever you like to change it up.”
Struggling with a brace and crutches, Foss simmered and stirred his way through recovery and rehab, but loved the task of perfecting his product. “It drives me insane if the basil darkens up, so I slide it in at the very end to keep it super green,” says Foss. “That way its flavor really opens up in the jar too.”
Finally believing that his hobby stood a chance at being more than that, Foss submitted jars to Cornell University, the FDA and the State of Massachusetts for the proper approvals and licenses.
Foss Sauce debuted at a flea market at the Quaker Meeting House in Sandwich at the end of 2014, with his family sampling it out by the spoonful. Customers smiled. And bought.
Two sizes in simple Mason-style jars were soon at other Cape craft fairs and farmers’ markets, including Osterville and Chatham. “At that time, it was taking me a full day to make a small batch,” says Foss.
Chef Doug finally got the green light to return to work. Currently the Food Services Director at Thayer Academy in Braintree, a job he loves, he gets a kick commuting with his son, a student there. His side job though, is here to stay.
– Michelle Koch