When Kristian Matthews was roaming the halls of Mississippi State University, he bumped into someone he'd never met before, but who looked familiar. It was his cousin, Kierre Dawkins.
Turns out Matthews and Dawkins had grown up less than an hour from each other without knowing it. Their chance meeting in college quickly turned into hangouts and, since they were good Mississippi boys, a lot of barbecue sessions. Soon the cousins found themselves cooking and selling food to tailgaters at MSU football games, whipping up sauces to go along with their ribs and hot links.
After graduating, Matthews moved to Denver in 2014, keen on joining the city's marijuana industry, but he rapidly realized that budtending gigs weren't his preferred route into legal pot. Instead, in 2017 he persuaded his employer, Denver dispensary Diego Pellicer, to let him open a barbecue stand outside of the store at Federal Boulevard and West Alameda Avenue. That's when he called Dawkins, by now a veteran of commercial kitchens, who moved to Colorado to help man the barbecue stand, Saucy's Southern BBQ & Cuisine.
In a city better known for fried bull gonads and sandwiches that helped kill Elvis than for barbecue, the stand became a celebration of places where ribs are more than just dinner. "You'll find good barbecue at the gas station in Mississippi. It's just different out there," Dawkins explains. "We like to use grills in Mississippi barbecue. We don't really smoke our meats or use as much vinegar as they do in Carolina. Everywhere thinks they do it best, and obviously, so do we."
After operating for three years in Diego Pellicer's parking lot, the two will soon be selling their culinary skills inside of dispensaries instead. They've agreed to a deal with Diego Pellicer to produce and sell THC-infused versions of Saucy's Southern wing sauce, a Carolina Gold-style honey-mustard sauce and a more traditional barbecue sauce.
Diego Pellicer allowed the two men to use the company's licensed cannabis manufacturing facility to craft the sauces as they continued to run their stand, The creation of the sauces took more than two years, as laboratory professionals shuffled in and out of the company, Matthews says. But they eventually hit the finish line, and the cousins will no longer be cooking in the parking lot while they focus on their cannabis endeavor and look for a building to house a future Saucy's restaurant.
According to Matthews, transitioning to THC was always part of the plan when they starting cooking in Denver. "We already have a name and food associated with the sauce. Half of the city has tried or heard of it because of the food, so they already know it's going to taste good," he says.
Each bottle contains 100 milligrams of THC, with one bottle-cap of sauce adding about 4 milligrams to a meal. The sauces are only available at Diego Pellicer right now, but Matthews and Dawkins have their eyes set on expanding to more stores, as well as making other THC-infused sauces and even a dry rub. Matthews also hopes to make CBD versions of his condiments "very soon."
Already a heavy meal that's known to put users to sleep even without weed involved, barbecue is actually an underrated way to ingest cannabinoids like THC or CBD, Dawkins says. "It just makes you float through that sleepy feeling easier," he promises. "It's more balanced, instead of pure laziness."
And it'll help make you eat even more barbecue.
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