It’s been more than seven years since Steve Trusten of White Bear Lake started a journey that would change his life. While caring for one of his grandchildren, Trusten began exploring avenues that would allow him to also work on other projects. He started making his own barbecue sauce. After many inedible mistakes, Trusten learned to create consistent flavor, and Pa’s BBQ Sauce and Such was born.
Today Trusten’s sauces are available at retailers in White Bear Lake and surrounding areas, including Flicker Meats in White Bear Lake, Festival Foods, Kowalski’s in Shoreview and White Bear Lake, Grundhofer’s in Hugo, Angus Meats in St. Paul and Brother’s Meat & Seafood in Maple Grove.
“The thing about my sauces is that they are different from run-of-the-mill sauces,” says Trusten. “In the four years that I’ve been passing out samples, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve ever heard anyone say, ‘Oh, this is like [such and such a brand.’] It is different.”
Trusten finds that with his Sweet Heat sauce, the flavor and heat change depending on how customers use it to cook.
“For example, Sweet Heat cold out of the bottle has a clean, sweet flavor and about three seconds into it you get a pop of flavor,” Trusten says. “Put it in a pot with rib tips or meatballs and you get a slow, tasty heat that is fabulous. Marinate some chicken breasts for 40 minutes with it and the heat becomes minor. I feel I just hit the right combination of spices in just the right way that sets them apart from all other sauces.”
Trusten has found multiple uses for each of his sauces. Smooth Heat makes a great marinade, especially for chicken—not just skinless, boneless breasts, but wings, thighs and legs, too, he says.
It can be also be used in place of mustard, says Trusten. “It’s perfect as a condiment for brats, burgers, as a dip for pretzels, etc.,” Trusten says. “I also add it to cole slaw and it gives just a touch of zip. Flicker Meats uses Smooth Heat on their meats.”
And while Trusten enjoys selling his sauces in stores, he loves farmers markets. “It’s rewarding to have strangers try the sauces, and then come back in a week for more,” Trusten says. “They share stories of how they use it.”
As Trusten’s business grows, he would like to add to his product line. “The line is called Pa’s Sauce and Such because I have rubs, Italian sauces and other items waiting for a chance to see if people enjoy them a much as they do the BBQ sauces,” Trusten says. “Hopefully, someday.”