Fat Man Little Kitchen is a surprisingly health-conscious brand of hot sauces and spices that is indigenous-owned and locally made just outside of Edmonton in Enoch Cree Nation. Owner and founder Marcel Martell says it all started because he wanted to put flavour first.
At an oilfield camp in Northern Alberta, Martell was working as a chef and lodge manager. He says the dining hall was three or four tables packed with 30 to 40 people all eating at the same time, and the workers would always be trying to one-up each other with hot sauce challenges. While some of the sauces would reach over 10 million Scovilles of heat, Martell’s biggest problem was trying to find spicy food that actually tasted good.
“We were buying all of this stuff from the States that were super expensive, and it was just like extracts, pepper mash and vinegar – it was gross,” says Martell, who is a certified Blue-Seal chef. “So one of my co-workers who is Jamaican was like, ‘Yo bro, I’m going to give you my grandma’s recipe, and you can change it any way you want and make it as spicy as you want.’”
Martell modified the recipe by removing some of the tubers, carrots and the like, adding more tomatoes to achieve that more “North American” flavour that he likes, and then came the extra spice, which included Carolina Reapers. Thus, the Fat Man Little Kitchen’s Hot Hot Sauce was born.
When one of his co-workers complained about it being too spicy, Martell modified the recipe again, taking out the reapers and spice, which would become the Not Hot Sauce. It was a major hit, and eventually, he was bringing 14 cases of hot sauce every time he went up for his three-week shifts.
The two sauces became the flagship products for Martell’s Fat Man Little Kitchen. Today it produces everything from its signature sauces to an even hotter Very Hot Sauce, a steak spice, a saskatoon berry marinade and Martell’s take on a Garam Masala, which he says when sprinkled on buttered popcorn, “It’ll change your life.”
Even though its name is Fat Man Little Kitchen, and its motto is “never trust a skinny cook,” Martell’s sauces are intentionally health conscious. All of them are gluten-free and vegan and contain zero added salt. Instead, he uses potassium chloride for seasoning.
While Martell still works in catering, he’s expanded the FMLK brand, which is now available at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market, Uncle Brian’s Butcher, Western Varieties, Care-it Deli, and I.A.M General Store in Fort Edmonton Park. Outside of YEG, you can catch Martell’s sauces and spices at K’s General Store at Alberta Beach, Heritage Park in Calgary and the Petro-Canada beside Casino Dene in Cold Lake.