Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Hawk Sauce is heating back up

Tuesday, October 8, 2019
The final bottling stage of Hawk Sauce took place in Dearmont's kitchen on October 3. The bottles hold 5 ounces.
Photos by Christi Hartung

Students in the Southeast Hospitality Management program are cooking up their Cape Girardeau famous Hawk Sauce yet again to meet high demands.

Originally produced in the spring, the team only made about 70-80 bottles for an assignment they were given in their hospitality sales and management class and was funded by Dr. Alberto Dávila, the dean of the Harrison College of Business and Computing.

Little did they know, the sauce would become a wild success and sell out quickly at Catapult and the Farmer’s Market.

This time around, to meet the demands of the public, the students are making around 300 bottles to sell.

Senior Dennis Settles stirring all the ingredients for Hawk Sauce in a large pot in Chartwell's kitchen on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Photo by Christi Hartung

Director of Hospitality Management and professor Quantella Noto got the idea when her marketing class had objections to their class project. The original project consisted of students finding a local business and helping them write out a marketing plan. Noto decided it would be more beneficial to students to create and sell their own product.

As she began her research, the idea of hot sauce came to mind.

“I was watching some information, watching the news and looking at trends, and I realized that hot sauce is very popular,” Noto said. “It outpaces ketchup and salsa as the number one condiment, so I thought maybe we could go into product development for the marketing class.”

Senior Becca Kirchner said she likes the idea of a student-run entrepreneurship opportunity such as the one offered in Noto’s class.

“I think it gives [the students] a really good entrepreneurial experience of going under that product creation, testing, selling and distribution process,” Kirchner said. “It’s a good time for them to see a product that they worked really hard on and mass-produce flourish.”

The sauce is comprised of Fresno peppers, garlic and smoked paprika, among other ingredients.

Senior Dennis Settles, who helped create the recipe, said the sauce has a unique flavor that develops over time.

“It kind of depends on the batch how hot it can be. We have found that the longer it sits, the more the heat develops,” Settles said. “It starts out a little bit sweeter, but gets hotter as it sits.”

This time around, to meet the demands of the public, the students are making around 300 bottles to sell.

Noto said when they made the sauce the first time, they used the kitchen in Dearmont. However, with this year’s batch being much larger, the students had to use Chartwell's kitchen in the University Center.

The process to make the sauce took three days. It’s 100% homemade, with all the ingredients being prepped by the students Sept. 30. All of the ingredients were put together in a large-scale pot in Chartwells’ kitchen and cooked down into sauce Oct. 1. The students then bottled and labeled the sauce in the kitchen in Dearmont Complex on Oct. 3.

This time around, Noto is taking more of a business approach, such as paying the students involved.

“We’re putting together what we hope to be a sustainable business, so we’re documenting our labor hours. We’ve switched sourcing the products a little bit, so it is a more efficient and less costly place to purchase. So we’re putting the pieces together so as students move in and out of the program, we already have it all together and just put new people in place.”

As of now, no profits have been made from the sauce because the original intent of the sauce was for a class project. However, Noto expects to soon see profits rise given the higher quantity of bottles, high demand of the public and having more of a business model.

Noto and Settles said they still have some details to work out about the distribution process, but it will soon be for sale at Catapult, as well as the Farmer’s Market and even at the Homecoming tailgate. The licensing agreement they currently hold will not allow them to sell it to local businesses, but that could change as time goes on.

The 5 ounce woozey bottles will sell for $10 each. All proceeds go to the Hospitality Management program to fund scholarships and other resources the program needs.