Passion for People and Portugese Hot Sauce: Mae’s Peri Peri Sauce

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After working as an executive in legal expense insurance for over 30 years, Ilona Scott found herself at odds between her managerial role and her own values.  The stress caused an inner crisis that could only be resolved by leaving the position that had brought her from South Africa to Canada.

Ilona decided to use this time out to write a book about people management and leadership.  Starting her own peri peri sauce business was not in her plans.  That was just a happy accident.

“As managers and leaders, we have the ultimate influence in the productivity and satisfaction of those who work in our teams. People are unappreciated, undervalued and scared – and because of this they want their private lives to be completely separate from their work lives.”  

The toxic work environment that she observed spanned across many industries. This is what inspired her to create a manager’s handbook based on Christian principles.

Having worked as a lawyer and corporate executive with an MBA , Scott is no stranger to all aspects of business management.  For years, she oversaw a staff which at times reached over 1000 employees. As we talked, I was continually reminded of her keen sense of business and entrepreneurship. She recently completed the Oxford church of ministry school, further adding to her Christian perspective.

Ilona gave me a sense of what her book is about.

  • Chap 1 – You and Yourself –  Understanding your own identity to make you into a better leader.
  • Chap 2 –  Others Identities – Getting to know the identities of those in your teams so you can lead them more effectively.
  • Chap 3 – Appreciation and Reward – This is tailored to the identity of those mentioned in Chap 2.

The next chapter will be about challenges facing managers and how to overcome them.

I don’t want to give too much away on her book plans. We did discuss her search for a good editor and publisher. Gosh, I wish I could be involved in that process!

Mae’s Peri Peri Sauce, aka, the Happy Accident

One day, Ilona was making a family recipe that called for some peri peri,  a Portuguese chili sauce. Her partner, Lance, was so impressed with it that he urged her to market it to the public. They chose the symbol of Portugal, the Barcelos Rooster, as their logo. In the legend of Barcelos, the heart in the rooster’s tail represents the love of life and the making of a miracle. A spiritual enterprise, indeed.

“Having grown up with a great many Portuguese friends in South Africa and having had the privilege of living in Portugal for a good while, I developed an immense love for Portuguese cuisine. One of the staple condiments and additions to many Portuguese dishes is peri peri sauce. There is a debate as to whether peri peri was first created in South Africa and exported to Portugal or visa versa, but whatever its true beginnings were, it has impacted the global food industry as we know it today. You may see many variants of this sauce with different heat strengths sold in stores, but that none are as fresh as the authentic peri peri sauce we make!

Mae’s (which means ‘mother’ in Portuguese ) Peri Peri Sauce was born out of a passion that both Lance and Ilona have for chili sauce.

Once they had received approval from Fraser Health to market the sauce, Ilona, her son Aiden and Lance started selling Mae’s Peri Peri at the Cloverdale Farmer’s Market.  After 3 Saturdays, they had already sold over 200 jars, with some return customers. They set up a tasting station and invite passersby to taste this unique flavour of Portugal.

I visited Ilona on that first day of sales and was greeted with a warm hug and a few samples to try. I love that the sauce is made of few, all natural ingredients like extra virgin olive oil and imported chilli peppers.  It contains no preservatives, artificial colorants or flavourings, no MSG and importantly for me – it is Gluten Free!

What can you do with peri peri sauce?

Mae’s provides a sheet with 3 wonderful recipes – Mae’s Peri Peri Chip & Veg Dip, Mae’s Peri Peri Chicken Wings and Mae’s Chicken Livers.

I tend to be more experimental, so I bought a large jar and slathered the sauce on my chicken before grilling it.  It’s also becoming a favourite condiment in my kitchen.  If you like hot sauce, you’ll love this simple, flavourful concoction!


What’s ahead?

Scott wants to look into producing her sauce in a commercial kitchen in order to mass market it and sell it in specialty food  stores.  For now, they want to create a Facebook page where they hope to have recipe competitions and news articles. She also wants to improve the packaging to get away from the Mason jars they currently use.

“I would like this peri peri sauce to be more popular than Ketchup…….I believe in people and miracles…so you never know!”

You can purchase Mae’s Peri Peri Sauce directly from Ilona by visiting the Cloverdale Market on most Sundays. Or contact Ilona at Look for Mae’s facebook page for more information on where to buy their sauce.



  1. Pingback: The Spiritual Entrepreneur | Turning my world upside down!

  2. What a great article! I’m sure it will boost your friend’s sales.
    It sounds like her book should also do very well!

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