Grandma Sandino’s is a 30-year Work in Progress
-By Ted Scheffler
Any chef will tell you that the secret to great food is great sauces and great seasonings. With that in mind, Mary Sandino and Dave Udy have been making Grandma Sandino’s sauce and seasonings here in Utah for over thirty years.
Most well known is Grandma Sandino’s Sicilian Sauce, which is based on a “house” vinaigrette that Dave loved when he ate at a Baltimore restaurant back in 1986 - “the best Italian restaurant that I had ever eaten at,” he says. He wound up bring a bottle of that vinaigrette home and went to work trying to create his own version of it - testing, testing, testing and experimenting until he finally mastered the formula.
The sauce was so popular with friends and relatives that he would make it every year after Thanksgiving and give bottles as presents for Christmas. Through the years, the sauce recipe changed and evolved and on 08-08-08, Dave says “I married my beautiful wife, Mary Sandino. On that day she became a grandma (I already had nine wonderful grandchildren). Hence the name Grandma Sandino’s Sicilian Sauce.”
The Sicilian Sauce, like all of Dave and Mary’s products, is all natural, vegetarian, gluten free, vegan, sodium free, MSG free, nut free, soy free, and certified non-GMO. It’s made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, organic cane sugar, spices, granulated garlic and onion, and citric acid and adds a touch of delicious to just about anything you can think of. I get a kick out of the tongue-in-cheek slogan for the Sicilian Sauce: “You’ll love it or else.”
The couple used to call their sauce “Garlic Friday” because they would make big batches of it on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Dave says, “The recipients of our gifts would stop by our house and beg for more. They would offer to shovel our walks or mow our lawn. They wanted to buy more from us so they didn’t have to wait until next December. We only made enough each year to supply our own needs and we didn’t have certifications and permits to ‘sell’ it to the public.”
By December of 2010, “It got ridiculous,” says Mary. And in January of 2011 she and Dave started Grandma Sandino’s. “We sold our first bottle in June at our first farmers market. We have evolved a lot since then and Grandma Sandino’s is our full time business.”
In addition to their wildly popular Sicilian Sauce, Grandma Sandino’s also sells Garlic Bread Mix, Grandma’s Rub (for pork and poultry), Gourmet Herbal Dip & Spread Mix, and Grandma’s Fish Sprinkle. All of these products can be found at GrandamaSandinos.com, and in many local stores and markets, as well as at the Downtown Farmers Market and the Park Silly Sunday Market. They are also working on getting Grandma Sandino’s products into CostCo and Sam’s Club stores.
The couple couldn’t have done it without friends and family. “We are eternally grateful for our kid and grandkids that have helped with every phase of making and bottling our sauce. And especially to our friend Frank Arnold AKA Santa Claus, RIP.”
When asked what sort of advice they might have for anyone considering embarking on a similar venture to theirs, the couple says “Go for it! You will only regret not living your dreams.”