Who is Mr. G?
His name is Greg Wilson and apart from widespread recognition for his locally crafted Mr. G’s Hot Sauce, he can be easily identified by his charismatic nature, sincere smile and animated personality, which coincide with unwavering passion and a determination to produce and brand the best hot sauce available on the market — locally, and worldwide.
That’s pretty spicy stuff.
His story began in 1999 when he first started selling his fiery sauce from his house. Mr. G’s Hot Sauce was sold at supermarkets and health food stores, both on and off-Island — more than 210 locations in all.
Business was thriving and expanding, but things changed when he went through a divorce a few years ago. “I lost all my contracts. Now, I’m starting back locally,” he said in an interview this week.
“I’m changing the whole concept after going to a Boston Food Market Convention,” he continued. “[The product] will be under a new hip-hop banner. Our slogan is, We Are All Jacked Up Baby.”
He said there are 600 cases of the newly branded hot sauce waiting in New Haven, Conn., at Ultimate Brand Foods.
And Mr. G. is looking for backers. “I’m sort of in a Catch-22,” he said, upbeat as he elaborated on his single dilemma: the economy. “I’m seeking investors — people who want to buy into a percentage of the company. The idea is to start back local, go regional, and eventually, I want to go global,” he said. “I’m going back to my roots.”
His future plans include a sporting apparel line called G-Flow. “The big picture is to form a spicy food franchise — takeout in inner cities — and then branch out. We’re making it a global entity,” he said, calling his new enterprise “the first hip-hop company in the U.S. — coming from Martha’s Vineyard, not New York, Los Angeles, or Boston.”
He said many people have expressed an interest, although the whole business plan has not come together yet. Meanwhile, he said Mr. G. remains.
“The people here need to know that this label on Martha’s Vineyard is not going to change. I’m going to keep this label — these are my people that have supported me,” he said. The Island label includes a picture of the Vineyard on fire and a slogan that states: “Where the Sauce meets the Soul.”
He said he is grateful to have so much support from the Island community.
He is generous with details about his special recipe. “A base of tomato, garlic, ginger, sassafras,” he began, continuing: “Only [scant] sodium coming from tomatoes, no sugar, and powdered okra.
“People gravitated to it not just because it was cool, but because it was healthy. Everybody says it’s sweet, but there’s no sugar in it . . . I find other things to offset it.”
He said if he had the money, he would go organic.
But this is not a family recipe. He explains: “When I was a kid, I was dropped off at my aunt’s restaurant, Count Basey. I would help with the collard greens . . . a gentleman there by the name of Theo would be sitting there, slumped over the pot. This sauce has really evolved from a Louisiana hot sauce to a New England hot sauce.
“Through the years I would sell it. When I got to Martha’s Vineyard, I needed some extra income. I would go to the beach at the Inkwell; after a summer of that it got really big. Everyone’s calling saying they want the sauce. Stu, the owner of Smoke n’ Bones and Paul, the owner of Lola’s, are my mentors. They used to put it on tables. They took a chance — and by word of mouth it went from a little g to big G.”
And as he looks for global investors, Mr. G. has a local interest:
Richard Paradise from Plum TV, with whom he has been discussing airing a cooking show. They are still trying to find a sponsor.
But whether global or local, he remains optimistic. “I can feel it in my bones. I’m out of my skin with it. We’re all jacked up baby,” he said.