The Demelo Family

The Demelo Family and the Secret Behind St-Hubert’s Piri-Piri Sauce

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Piri-piri sauce supplier, Nicolet

Our R&D team tried no less than 30 piri-piri sauces before finding the one that would quickly become our customers' favourite. The secret? The Demelo family from Nicolet.

“My father still has difficulty believing that our sauce is on the menu at his favourite restaurant,” says Denis.

Denis and Line Demelo, owners of Casa Das Tias, a small family-run business in Nicolet that specializes in Portugal-inspired sauces and spice blends, were far from suspecting that their sauce would one day make the rounds of St-Hubert rotisseries. But it did.

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Putting on a show to echo Portuguese traditions

Line has always dreamed of running her own restaurant. Denis, who was somewhat reluctant to the idea, convinced her to take it one step at a time. In 2012, the couple launched Casa Das Tias, which translates as “aunts' house” in English. Line and Denis chose this name as a nod to Eveline Barbosa-Demelo, Denis' mother, and her two sisters, Alzira and Lourdes, from whom Line learned how to cook according to Portuguese traditions.

In 2012, the duo also moved to the Godefroy market in Bécancour to sell chicken cooked on charcoal, which created quite the buzz. Eventually, Line took inspiration from the Demelo cuisine and created her own sauce to match the Portuguese chicken she and Denis were selling at the market. This is also when the couple met Steve, who then started working for the market. Steve was really interested in their project, so he joined the Demelo family, along with his wife and mother.

In 2013, Line and Denis opened their second point of sale: a trailer located a few steps from the Camping du Port Saint-François, in Nicolet. “Even the wind was on our side, carrying the smell of our chicken to the campers. You can really say we had the wind in our sails,” says Denis.

In 2015, Casa Das Tias began marketing its sauce and selling it in various local markets throughout Nicolet.

From luck to success

In 2016, the Demelo family reserved a booth at the Salon International de l'Alimentation (SIAL), right next to the St-Hubert booth. Quickly, St-Hubert fell under the spell of the couple's piri-piri sauce and asked for samples. “They wanted institutional formats and I didn't even know what they were. I had to run to my supplier's booth to explain that these were 4L formats,” Denis recalls. A year later, all the rotisseries had the famous Portuguese sauce on their menu.

"St-Hubert wanted a real sauce, as real as the one you find in Portuguese restaurants, called churrascarias," explains Denis. Made from freshly squeezed lemon juice, garlic, and piri-piri pepper, the taste of their sauce has nothing to do with those said to be more industrial.

"We are where we are today, thanks to St-Hubert. St-Hubert could have done business with a company that was already well established, but they decided to prioritize quality and taste above all else,” explains Denis.

“I developed a sauce that I liked. And I guess I wasn’t the only one who loved it,” says Line. The sauce was so popular with St-Hubert customers that what was originally supposed to sell in one year sold out in just three months. Much to the delight of the Demelo family and lovers of piri-piri sauce, it can now be found on grocery store shelves alongside other St-Hubert products.

Authentic taste, no matter the size of the recipe

If you ask the Demelos why their sauce is so popular, they’ll tell you without hesitation that it has to do with its authenticity. "It doesn't matter how much sauce I sell, the important thing is that it tastes the same as the original recipe," Line says.

In 2021, the Demelo family plans on expanding their infrastructure with the aim of increasing their production capacity and developing new markets. It just goes to show that their spotlight is not about to fade out anytime soon. The show must go on!