Story Behind the Sauce

My name is Todd Harris. I started cooking at an early age to help my mom in the kitchen. We didn't have a lot. Much of our food was courtesy of a local food pantry. Yet, we never felt like we were poor. With the little that we did have, we learned to make a lot of different dishes rooted in the same food pantry items. It is hard to believe how many different dishes you can make using just ramen noodles, canned vegetables, canned meats, old bread, and government cheese. Not knowing what we were going to eat each day wasn't something that we worried about because my family thought it was fun to see what we had and what we could make out of it. My mom would make so many different dishes using the same products that it made us feel like we had plenty. Also, cooking food to share with our friends and neighbors was gratifying because some of them were as food insecure as we were and my mom was a magician in the kitchen; sharing our creations felt good. Those days had such an impact on my life that, as an adult, husband, and father, I still decide what to cook each day by looking in the fridge and making the meals just happen.

For over 30 years, I have cooked and shared my creations with family and friends. It has never gotten old to see the looks of approval on their faces, especially whenever I grilled. I was never a huge fan of store-bought BBQ sauces. However, I always enjoyed creating one on the fly for the cookout and my family and friends always loved it. They loved it so much that they would ask me to sell it to them! One of the most interesting and fun that I've had with cooking is when I had the opportunity to submit a rib recipe contest at KARE-11 News in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and won the opportunity to go live, on-air, and share it during the weather segment (image below). After the segment was over, everyone from the station came down to try the ribs and they were a big hit.

My wife suggested to me for years, that I should make my own BBQ sauce. So, 12 years into our marriage, in 2020, I had time to work on creating my own BBQ sauce, and earlier this summer, I had a eureka moment. I was grilling beef ribs and out of nowhere, I started mixing ingredients that I felt would add different flavors than a lot of the sauces that I've tried on the market. After a few hours, while the ribs were smoking, I felt like I had something different. So my wife and I stood in the kitchen and tasted it without the meat and it was surprisingly better than I thought it would be. My wife isn't huge on BBQ sauce either yet she said, "Okay, this is good". I said, “it's missing something” but I had to think about it. After a couple of tweaks, I started clapping my hands because I was very pleased with the results. I then proceeded to put the sauce on the ribs. My wife and I each took a bite and she said, "That's it!" I agreed and formed Neighborhood Cookin. It was decades in the making but Papa Bruce’s BBQ Sauce is now here and family, friends, and a host of others all agree that it was worth the wait. I think that you will, too.