Local couple create sauces for seafood

Charleston Original Sauces

Eating local seafood and fish? The Lowcountry now has its own gourmet sauces to go with them.

A Mount Pleasant couple, John and Mary Rhea, have turned their homemade blends into a commercial venture called Charleston Original Sauces. The 12-ounce bottles of cocktail and tartar sauces are available at a number of stores, including Boone Hall Farms, Seaside Farms Piggly Wiggly, Simmons Seafood, Coastal Cupboard, Whole Foods Market (cocktail sauce only), Crosby's Seafood on Folly Beach and Stono Market on Johns Island. Bottles generally are priced at $4-$5.

"My wife and I have been making cocktail sauce to enjoy with our favorite seafood, especially oysters, for some time and decided to start a company so everyone else could enjoy it, too," says John Rhea.

The husband and wife, born and raised in Charleston, first met when they were 11 and dated through high school. Thereafter, their lives diverged until 23 years later. "We are now married raising our blended family of seven boys. To add to the excitement, we had our own baby -- yes ... a girl!"

The Rheas always have shared a love of Lowcountry waters and its bounty of crabs, shrimp and oysters. "Our affinity for great seafood was established at an early age," he says, and the sauces were a natural extension of that.

The bottle label, created by local artist Clay Rice, depicts two shrimpers from years past throwing a cast net.

"It only took one try and he nailed it," says Rhea.

For information, e-mail jr@charlestonoriginalsauces.com.