For Samantha Swan, business is about more than hot sauce — it’s about home.
Swan is the owner and founder of Cottage Lane Kitchen, and her family has been making hot pepper relishes with the same recipe for four generations.
Before she asked her father to teach her the time-tested recipe in 2009, it had only been passed down orally. When Swan decided to begin canning and selling the relish, Cottage Lane was an obvious choice for her company's name.
“We thought that name would be a testament to not only our location and our history in Chapel Hill, but also our homestead on Cottage Lane,” Swan said.
In September, Cottage Lane’s Cape Fear Pepper Relish won best N.C. Verde Hot Sauce at the North Carolina Hot Sauce Contest in Oxford. The latest award adds to a total of over 25 the company has received, including having been a finalist in Martha Stewart’s 2015 competition for American-made products.
For Swan, whose great-grandmother’s recipe “Get Me a Switch” won the contest’s Critic's Choice award back in 2012, this win brings her business full-circle.
“That was our first big award for our relishes, so we were really happy about that,” Swan said. “Here we are seven years later where our modern-day relish, 'Cape Fear,' wins the Verde [contest].”
Although the recognition is nice, Swan said she has known she had something special from the moment the company sold its first hot sauce at a farmer’s market in 2009.
“I realized when we started taste-testing that a lot of people, their families made the same thing,” Swan said. “Kind of less spicy or more spicy or making it a little bit different, but it is a regional canned product, so people identified with it when we took it to market.”