- Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine
Chef Anthony of Hughey’s Home Cooking
By Craig Smith
Start talking barbeque, and you’re likely to get into a “which sauce is best” discussion. Is it Kansas City or Memphis style? Maybe you prefer the sauce for which Texas is known? How about sauces from the Carolinas? Before you weigh in with your opinion, however, be sure and try Chef Anthony Hughey’s “Made with Love” Carolina style BBQ sauces. If you had a favorite before, his are likely to replace them as your go-to.
Chef Hughey features three sauces, and Chow Chow, a cabbage and sweet pepper-based relish that definitely originated in the South, and which makes a great accompaniment for rice and ribs. Hughey started selling his sauces online about 18 months ago. He first debuted them in person at the 2021 Blues, Brews & BBQ – and sold out in an hour. That was hardly a fluke – Chef Eddie Espiritu at Sky and Vine is a convert and true believer. He recently added Hughey’s sauces to the list at Archer Hotel rooftop Whiskey Bar. “As a chef for the past thirteen years line cook for twenty, you can taste the love as well as the ingredients in food. Hughey’s Chow Chow is one of the best I’ve tasted this side of the Mississippi,” he said. “We had a group here last week who said the ribs were the best they’ve ever tasted.” If it’s good enough for them…well, try them and see for yourself.
Hughey is from South Carolina, and spent countless hours in the kitchen with his Mom and Grandma. They taught him the southern staples – fried chicken, cornbread and collard greens – and instilled an appreciation of food that became his life. “They taught me that you can make people happy through food,” said Hughey. He did a culinary program his sophomore year in high school, where he learned to take time with the food you prepare, even when plating it. When you’re in the kitchen, “You gotta give love to your food,” he said. “Take your time, do it right and your food will be right.”
Hughey attended Le Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, earning an AA degree. His first internship was at a South Carolina county club, which featured fine dining. He later worked in an assisted living facility, where the kitchen turned out three meals a day, all from all scratch. It was a great experience and he learned a lot, but moved on to work for a cruise line, were he spent five months at a time in a kitchen at sea. It was grueling, hard work, but he loved it. He might still be there, but he met Lauren, a fellow employee, and ultimately loved her more than the work. She was ready to get off the ship and move back to Napa, and he was ready to go with her. They married and now raise their daughter, Gwendolyn. Hughey has spent the past five years working as a banquet chef at Acacia House. If you had asked him two years ago, he would have told you that everything in his life was good, except that he couldn’t find a good BBQ sauce.
“I couldn’t find anything that I liked,” he said. “Oh, there’s BBQ sauce here, but not the Carolina style I grew up with and still love.” He began to think about and formulate recipes in his head, and finally went into the kitchen and started trying them out. “It took me a month or two to work out the ingredients, and I now have three sauces I am very proud of.”
True aficionados of Carolina BBQ sauce know that there are three subsets within that genre – a northern style which uses more of a ketchup base, a southern style that relies on vinegar, and one from the central Carolinas, which uses a mustard base. Hughey wanted to honor all three, and in March of last year, rolled out three distinct flavors for purchase. So far, the most popular is Carolina Gold, a mustard-based sauce. Hot and Tangy employs vinegar, and Hughey’s Original is a ketchup-based option. Like good Carolina BBQ sauce, all three contain very little sugar. Hot and Tangy and Hughey’s Original are gluten free.
“All of the sauces are made with love. I wanted to share something from home with Napa.”
The wheels are still turning in Hughey’s mind as he thinks about other food he’d like to offer. Until he settles on the next thing, enjoy his BBQ sauces, which you can find at hugheyshomecooking.com.