The science of barbecuing has Donald Pierce shunning red and championing white. The taste of her father’s white barbecue sauce has his daughter, Callie Pierce, courting national success and planning marketing strategies.
Donald and Callie Pierce are now bottling and selling Jacque’s Tennessee Style BBQ Sauce nationwide through their website and from their home in Friendsville. Donald also uses his specialty sauce in their catering business, Chef Jacque Pierre’s Char Chic.
“Don’t get burned by the red sauce,” said Callie, marketing and internet business point person. She said that their special barbecue sauce recipe has vinegar, oil, natural spices and a pasteurized egg to give it a natural, creamy texture. She added that they use all natural ingredients and the sauce contains no MSG, monosodium glutamate, a common food additive. She said the white barbecue sauce can be used for marinating, basting or grilling beef, chicken, pork, fish and even vegetables.
Callie said her father’s white barbecue sauce has been years in the making. The experimentation began when Donald read a scientific journal article that explained that acidic tomatoes cause charring and burning of barbecue.
Donald said he saw research from Cornell University that white sauce is better because tomatoes burn.
“That’s when I came up with my white sauce. I’ve worked on my white since about 1984,” he said. “I kept working on it and started to cook chicken to see what people would think about it. People said it was good.”
Donald is no stranger to the food business. “I’m 58 and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up,” he said.
As a teen in the Catskills of upstate New York, he cooked chicken with a childhood friend. After returning from a military stint in Vietnam in 1972, he took a break before going back to school. “I had a shark fishing business and someone told me to get an education. That was before Jaws,” he said.
After earning a civil engineering degree at State University of New York at Delhi, he hired on with Rust Engineering in Birmingham. They assigned him to Oak Ridge. He moved to Blount County in 1982.
In 1986, he opened the Country Barn, a craft and antique store with a small barbecue restaurant, with his wife, who is now deceased. The business thrived, especially the restaurant. The aroma of home cooking and barbecue brought the customers in and kept them coming back for more.
In 1995 he closed the café and continued to do catering when he could. “I’m an engineer by trade. You don’t want to quit your day job. I worked different contracts that took me to different places. Wherever I worked, like when I worked in Jamaica, I learn how people cook things,” he said.
In February, Callie convinced her dad to go into business and market the sauce he had spent years perfecting. Callie had graduated college and moved to California, but said she knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. After talking with her father, she said she saw a way to put her education and skills to use to market her father’s sauce.
“She said, ‘Lets get you off the couch and market this stuff.’ That’s what she did. From January to April, she got it FDA-approved, designed the label with nutritional value, bar-coded it and the whole 9 yards. I’ve got that young blood behind me. We’re in phase I now,” he said.
“It gives food a savory kick,” Callie said. “It’s an excellent, versatile sauce.”
At home, Callie said she uses Jacque’s Tennessee Style BBQ Sauce as a salad dressing, on baked tilapia and on sandwiches.
Callie said they’ve had good response at catering jobs to her dad’s chicken.
“It practically falls off the bones,” Callie said. Her dad bastes the chicken every five minutes in the 30 foot kitchen- on-wheels used in their catering business.
Good food at a good price is their motto for their catering business, Callie said. At catering functions, a customer can get a half chicken, beans, slaw and two pieces of garlic bread for $10. Callie said she also uses her grandmother’s recipe for homemade molasses cookies.
The catering business has taken them throughout the South. In July, they catered an event in Nashville. They will be catering at Boomsday in Knoxville, and Callie said they are hoping to work the Foothills Fall Festival in Maryville.
“We’ve got a state-of-the-art kitchen on wheels, a refrigerator truck on wheels, and we’re mobile and capable of working with FEMA,” Donald said. “We’ve been contracted to cook for 235 people for 10 days. We can take our food anywhere.”
Callie said Jacque Pierre Char Chic catering business generates income to allow them to market the Chef Jacque’s Tennessee style barbecue sauce. Future plans include adding to their product line, like bottling a Jamaican jerk sauce and a dry rub.
“It’s been really exciting,” Callie said. “It’s a proud moment when you see the bottled sauce and think of how it all started.”
Donald said he and his daughter would like to open a restaurant in Friendsville. “We just bought an old house built in 1871. There’s an old mercantile store built in 1926 next to it, and that’s where we’re working out of. We’re finishing this house up and hoping we can open a café,” he said. “It’s right next to where the railroad used to pick up marble. We may call it ‘The Whistle Stop Café,’ and serve barbecue chicken and fried green tomatoes.”
Donald said he and his daughter also have big plans for his barbecue sauce, and they hope to expand the market for his creation. “We’ll be doing the Fiery Foods and BBQ Show in Albuquerque, N.M. It is where companies come in and distributors check out everyone’s sauce and salsa. That’s where you market your sauce and get it out,” he said. “We’re setting it up to do that next March. We’ll head down there and pick up accounts there. There are not many people who use the white sauce. Everybody is in the red sauce. This you can baste as you cook. It doesn’t burn.”
Donald laughed when explaining how he came up with his business name. Like many who worked at Alcoa, Inc., he got a nickname.
“Typically, Alcoa workers pick a nickname for you, and they thought I was a Frenchman. They thought I was out of Canada and that handle hung on me a long time,” he said.
For more information about Jacque Pierre Char Chic catering or Jacque’s Tennessee Style BBQ Sauce, visit their web site, www.jacquesbbq.com.