Mama Deb’s Wicked Awesome Sauce can be found locally on the shelves at Trucchi’s in Middleboro.
MIDDLEBORO — Deb Doyle, aka Mama Deb, the name and face behind Mama Deb’s Wicked Awesome Sauce, says it’s the sweetness that sets her product apart from others. But it’s Mama Deb’s fighting spirit and determination that have seen the business model grow and made the sauce, and food, something of a local hit.
“It’s a sweet Italian sauce,” she said. “There are people out there who like their sauce on the sweeter side and most of the sauces at the store have a more traditional taste.”
Mama Deb’s Wicked Awesome Sauce, which can be found locally on the shelves at Trucchi’s in Middleboro — and wherever you might find Mama Deb at work — is an original recipe and Doyle’s first shot at the retail food business.
“My grandmother was Italian and she used to cook for me and teach me some things in the kitchen. She passed away when I was 20, so she never handed down any of her recipes or anything — and when I really think about it, I'm pretty sure she was cooking from memory and to taste back then," she said. "But over the years I developed my own taste and this recipe ... my kids love, the grand kids love it. So, when we decided to try a retail product we decided to go with the sauce."
As the sauce business branched out and they — Doyle runs the business with her husband Dave Doyle — found a few more retail outlets for their product, Mama Deb’s Sauce quickly developed into a sustainable business model with potential for growth. Soon, a food truck — featuring the sauce and a menu including Italian favorites — was the goal.
It was a good plan, but things don’t always go as planned.
Earlier this year, just as Deb and Dave were finalizing a deal to acquire a food truck and about to get to work, the excitement was cut short when Deb was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer.
A non-smoker, the diagnosis was a shock for the whole family, and the food truck plans were put on hold – but only temporarily.
“It’s incurable ... but treatable ... so I’m lucky for that," Doyle said. "Right now, I feel great. The radiation treatments have cut the tumor from about four inches to just one inch and we just keep fighting. Thank God for modern medicine and technology ... and prayer."
"I’m 52, I don’t need this, I’ve got things to do,” she added with a laugh. “It was scary but things are going much better now, and we'll just keep our fingers crossed.”
While the food truck was on hold and treatments commenced, Deb did not get discouraged and instead focused efforts on representing Mama Deb’s with a food stand. And despite no kitchen and no wheels, she’s made the most of it, serving up chicken Parmesan and meatball subs and a few other Italian-style favorites like mozzarella sticks and toasted ravioli at local events, starting with Krazy Days this past summer, and most recently at the Jesse Heikkila Foundation Bat Run, which benefits childhood cancer awareness.
Coming up, Mama Deb will be at the Middleborough Tourism Committee’s Crantoberfest, Kites over Middleborough and the Cape Cod Brew Fest.
And today, the plan to make Mama Deb’s truly mobile with a food truck is back on. Deb and Dave said they’ve just about secured a truck and hope to be out on the road and serving food by spring of 2020.
“It’s used and needs some TLC, but we should have it ready by April,” she said.
Deb, who's been a independent business owner since she started selling arts and crafts supplies at 17, and made a splash more recently with her home-based custom-design sign, Jessa-Loop Designs, is excited for the new venture, and in an effort to further her cooking and management skills will soon begin an online culinary arts degree program.
"I've been running my own businesses since I was 17, I guess I'm an entrepreneur at heart," she said. "Even when I was working full time I always had another business on the side. But this is different and hopefully, this will be it, my full-time job. I love it. It's very rewarding, because it mine, but also it's really cool when someone comes back and tells you how much they like it. That's what it's all about."
Reach Jon Haglof at email@example.com