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4:05 AM 5th June 2021
lifestyle

Weekend Food: Leeds Chef Wins Place On Supermarket Shelves

The owner and head chef at Leeds Latin restaurant, Viva Cuba, is seeing national supermarket success after branching out into retail with Spanish condiments brand, Mojo Sauce.

Mojo Red and Mojo Green, which have been on tables at the popular Kirkstall Road restaurant for over 20 years, have won listings at Co-op stores this month, adding to its nationwide stock at Morrisons and Ocado.

The North Leeds entrepreneurs behind the young brand are friends Seb McGowan and business partner James Homer, who teamed up to develop Mojo Sauce for the supermarket shelves in 2018, capitalising on the growth of Spanish cuisine in the UK.

(L-R) James Homer and Seb McGowan, founders of Viva Cuba Foods
(L-R) James Homer and Seb McGowan, founders of Viva Cuba Foods
In two years, the side hustle for the pair has grown into a £100k business, selling over 10,000 bottles a month. The award-winning low sugar, low salt, low carb, low fat, vegetarian and vegan-friendly products offer a high quality, low-cost alternative to traditional sauces like ketchup and mayo, and have gained a cult following in the sauces and condiments aisle.

Founder, Seb McGowan, explains: “Mojo sauces are a staple in every household in the Canary Islands. My mother-in-law in Tenerife gave me her recipe and they’ve always been so popular at the restaurant, I knew I could make them work for retail with the right partners. I could just see such a gap for Spanish flavours in that aisle.

“While we’ve been forced to close the restaurant because of the pandemic, the positive has been that we’ve been able to drive the Mojo brand forward.”

Partner James Homer adds: “We’re delighted with the expansion into new supermarkets, it’s just the start. We have developed a whole new range of mayos, sauces, rubs and complementary foods under the Mojo brand, which are ready to go. The ultimate goal is to become the next big sauce success story, like Peri Peri or Reggae Reggae.”

Originating from a Canary Islands family recipe and now made in Yorkshire, the two distinctive sauces are pitched as perfect for dipping, pouring and marinating. Mojo Red is a sweet and smoky sauce staple, while Mojo Green trades on its garlic and fresh herbs flavour, promising to elevate everything from BBQs, tapas and salads, to fries, nachos and potatoes.

The condiment market is a growth sector worth £2.9bn in the UK alone. Viva Cuba a is a firm favourite in the Leeds restaurant scene, famed for its Spanish inspired Cuban tapas menu. It celebrates its 20th birthday this summer.