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Yello Interviews: Wayne Ifill, Founder of ‘Auntie Phyllis Bajan BBQ Sauce’

by Karen Rollins Mar 25, 2024

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Wayne Ifill, founder of Auntie Phyllis Bajan BBQ Sauce

Barbadian entrepreneur Wayne Ifill started making his own BBQ sauces in 2009. He wanted to enhance the taste of sauces available in the shops and add a touch of Bajan flavouring to the food he sold at his small canteen.

After feedback from staff and customers, Wayne realised his homemade BBQ sauce was a hit! Over the next few years, he worked on various recipes which infused familiar ingredients such as rum, pineapple, and pepper and eventually launched his brand ‘Auntie Phyllis’ in 2019.

‘Auntie Phyllis Bajan BBQ sauce’ is now available in several outlets around the island and will soon be sold online and in supermarkets as well.

Yello chatted with Wayne about his growing business. He told us more about how it started, what makes his sauce unique, and his plans to add even more products to the ‘Auntie Phyllis’ line.

Describe yourself using three words.

Dedicated. Passionate. A motivator.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I was born and raised in St Paul’s Avenue. I went to Bay Primary School and then Christ Church Foundation Secondary School. The subjects I really liked were art and technical drawing. I particularly enjoyed freehand drawing and building arrangements. 

But my main interests then were sporting activities and my go to was football. I used to play for Jubilee Footballers.

I went straight into the work environment from school as a teenager. I started out at Simpson Motors (as it was then) and then moved to BS&T (Barbados Shipping & Trading Company Limited) where I was a sales representative for commercial and industrial equipment.

What was your initial career plan?

I was interested in being an architect but when I left school the opportunity just came up at Simpson Motors. 

I remember a friend of mine worked there. He used to pass and shout me, and he was always driving a nice vehicle and I would say, ‘I want one of those jobs.’ So, when a good family friend told me about an opening there and asked if I would be interested, it seemed like a dream coming true. I took the opportunity, spent 14 years there, and I enjoyed it. 

But I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I owned a rental company for construction equipment. I also opened a small hardware store. But when the financial crash happened in 2008, the construction industry went down, and the business started to suffer. That’s when I went to my next love which was cooking.

Auntie Phyllis Bajan BBQ Sauce

Tell us how you ended up making your own BBQ sauce.

In 2009, I started a weekend cookout with fast food like chips, BBQ chicken, BBQ ribs, and pigtails. I would buy BBQ sauce at the supermarket, but I would always have to do something to enhance those sauces because I was dissatisfied with the BBQ products, so that’s when I decided to do some research and make my own.

I started with an original which was like a base. Then as people liked the sauce, I decided to experiment and expand by adding ingredients and flavours that tie in with our culture, and which I knew would resonate with Bajans. 

When did you officially launch your brand ‘Auntie Phyllis’?

I officially launched the business in 2019. I was operating a small canteen and the ladies working there kept telling me how much people loved the product and they were saying ‘why don’t you sell these sauces?’ I toyed with the idea and eventually I decided it made sense.

Tell us about the products you have on the market now.

So, eventually I added four more flavours to the original. We have ‘rum fusion’ because I knew that rum was a flavour people loved and of course Barbados is the birthplace of rum. Then we’ve got ‘pineapple saga’ because I wanted something that was fruity, and pineapple goes with chicken and ham. 

I then wanted to add some heat because Bajans love pepper sauce, so I wanted to give them just a subtle kick to go with the BBQ taste, that’s the ‘sweet heat’. But I had some friends who drink alcohol and wanted even more heat, so I went back to the lab and came up with ‘ultimate heat’.

How did you settle on the final recipes to take to market?

My mum always taught me the importance of flavour and I believe in tasting everything that I use. 

I can tell you what raw curry, cilantro, thyme, and oregano taste like, and what goes with another. But you have to be careful that the flavours don’t overpower each other. The consistency was also very important. My sauce is not runny or watery, it has texture and body. 

So, it took me almost 10 years of research and combining flavours before I was ready to launch the product.

Auntie Phyllis Bajan BBQ Sauce

What makes your product different to other BBQ sauces?

I present my product like this – it is a ‘premium quality, purchase and pour line of BBQ sauces that embrace Bajan culture’. 

It is premium because when it is poured out you can see the ingredients, flavour, and texture and that tells you that this is a good sauce. 

You also don’t have to add anything to it. Every sauce has the exact flavour you desire. The original is the one that you can put your own twist to because I can’t make every single flavour, so the original is a good base, and you can add what you like to that one.

I can guarantee that no other sauce tastes as good as Auntie Phyllis!

Which one is your personal favourite?

I would go with the ‘sweet heat’ because I like a little heat in everything.

Where on the island can people buy Auntie Phyllis Bajan BBQ Sauce?

The sauces are in the gift shop at Harrison’s Cave. They are also in four branches of Nicholl’s Bakery’s – Sion Hill, Thorpes, Bibby’s Lane and Lodge Road. You can get them in Piece of Barbados, Artsplash in Hastings, and Gap Convenience Store and The Dover Market in St Lawrence Gap. 

Soon the sauces will also be in local supermarkets. I did not rush to get into the supermarkets because I wanted to be able to meet demand. So, I used the International Food Science Center in Newton which gives the public confidence that the product is being made in a state-of-the-art facility, and I can scale up if one of the supermarkets wants a certain quantity.

What are your plans over the next 12-18 months?

I have not even scratched the surface yet. Our five sauces are just the beginning. We have a dry rub and I also have a sauce for fish that is suitable for vegans because it is not mayonnaise based. I also want to get involved in travel packs. 

So, there is a lot on the horizon, but we also want to take it one step at a time.

Auntie Phyllis Bajan BBQ Sauce

What do you love the most about Barbados?

The people. The family-like environment and community spirit. I find that Barbados is still a safe society, and you can always find someone who is helpful. I like the sea, sand, and sunshine but I love the people.

What is your motto / approach / general philosophy in life?

I will use the motto of my alma mater which is “learn to be of service to humanity”. Wherever you can, do good to help people.

Follow Auntie Phyllis Bajan BBQ Sauce on Instagram and Facebook.