By Travis Sloat
Phoenix staff writer
Bryan Thigpen said his love of cooking started in his grandmother’s kitchen.
“When I was 10, I was in her kitchen and she told me I had to get out of the way or help,” he said. “I decided to help.”
That decision eventually led to Thigpen taking an old avuncular dipping sauce recipe and trying to turn it into an empire.
Thigpen owns Swamp Sauces and Seasonings, a Tahlequah company that has its product in several stores and farmers’ markets in the Green Country area.
Thigpen said bottling the sauces was an easy decision for him.
“I grew up in a family that owns a small business,” he said. “We started with the original sauce that my uncle created in 1980.”
That signature sauce, dubbed “Bayou Dipping Sauce,” is a mustard- and vinegar-based dipping sauce. “Sweet and Tangy Swamp Sauce,” a barbecue sauce, “VooDoo Wing Sauce,” for chicken wings, and several “Swamp Dust” dry-rub type seasonings quickly followed after the business started in April 2012.
“(The sauces have) a lot of flavor and the spices are mixed just right,” Thigpen said. “The Sweet and Tangy has a smooth and sweet, but bold, taste. The VooDoo Wing Sauce was developed to satisfy my taste buds, since I don’t like traditional wing sauces. We use special kinds of vinegar and spices to give it a unique taste.”
The company’s products are available at Central Meat Market as well as the Amish Country Store and Restaurant in Muskogee. Thigpen can be found most Saturdays at the Muskogee Farmers’ Market.
Thigpen said he sells between 25 and 30 cases a month of the different sauces.
“We’d like to grow that by at least five cases a month through the end of the year,” he said. “Choosing to manufacture in Tahlequah was great because of their close proximity to us. It makes it very easy to pick our product up and deliver it.”
The Louisiana native said he and his wife moved to Green Country as a “business decision,” but also to be closer to family.
“My wife is a Muskogee native,” he said. “Her grandparents still live here and her parents live in Tulsa. My job had an opening in Muskogee, and we felt like we could relocate a little closer to her family.”
He also said he has a brand idea, and he wants to make sure people recognize it.
“We’ve created Boudreaux the Grillin’ Gator,” Thigpen said. “We people think about the sauce, we want them to think about Boudreaux. If you can create a brand, the products you can make are limitless.”
Thigpen also said he was on a 10-year plan to “go national, maybe worldwide.”
“We’re trying to start small and local,” he said. “I want to get into some local restaurants, and be what people talk about when they discuss Oklahoma and barbecue sauces.”
Swamp Sauces and Seasonings is also releasing several new products in the coming months, including salad dressings, hot sauces and three new seasoning flavors.
Thigpen said he is always looking for recipes.
“If you have something you think is good, let us know,” he said.
Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or tsloat@