Sone’s Thai Cuisine
Mark and Sone Edwards’ sauces offer an authentic taste of Thailand using local ingredients. Maddie Ballard hears their story.
The seeds for Sone’s Thai Cuisine and Sauces, a Kapiti Coast-based producer run by Mark and Sone Edwards, were sown several years ago. Sone, who is originally from Thailand, needed to make something for her daughter’s shared lunch at school. She settled on traditional Thai food, concocting a satay sauce based on flavours she remembered from her childhood. The sauce was a roaring success, with other parents at the lunch suggesting she bottle it. Then, a few years later, Mark’s workplace had a VIP Thai delegation to stay. Mark and Sone had them over for a barbecue – but Sone realised she didn’t have a sauce to go with the food. “She ran out to the back garden and picked some herbs and put a sauce together then and there,” remembers Mark. “All the Thai visitors loved it and she kept making it to share with friends.” But it wasn’t until misfortune hit that the sauces turned into a business. Sone had gone through breast cancer when the doctors found a growth in her leg and told her she didn’t have long to live. Mark quit work to support her – but the doctors had made a mistake. “Luckily, it turned out not to be terminal,” says Mark. “So instead of finding another job, because she was already making the sauces as a sort of hobby, I thought, why not just run with it and see how far we can go? We turned the sauces into a full-time business in 2016 and we haven’t looked back since.” It was quite a transition for the pair, with Mark, who had previously worked as a chef at the Police College in Porirua, running the business side of things, and Sone, who had previously worked as cleaner, making the sauces. “Neither of us are businesspeople,” says Mark. “But we’re learning as we go.” They currently produce three sauces: Sone’s Secret Sauce (a refreshing makrut lime and herb hit), Sone’s Salad Sauce (a herb and chilli general purpose sauce, based on the sauce made for the visiting Thai delegation) and Sone’s Satay Sauce (peanutty goodness spiked with coconut cream and garlic). All three are intended to be multipurpose, serving as marinades, dressings and dipping sauces, and are as equally at home in a stir-fry as in a salad. The Secret Sauce is vegetarian, the Salad and Satay are both vegan and all three are gluten- and dairy-free. Each is totally handmade in their commercial kitchen in Paraparaumu and features locally sourced ingredients. The coriander in the sauces comes from nearby Otaki, the chillies and makrut lime leaves come from up Kerikeri while the lemons come from Gisborne. Mark says the fact it’s just the two of them presents certain challenges. “It can get pretty full-on,” he admits. “For instance, today, Sone will have to go out and pick up the coriander from the local market growers in Otaki. She’ll bring it back, wash it all and then we chop it all by hand. And when we’re juicing the lemons for our sauces, we have to do them just half a lemon at a time, that sort of thing. It can be quite a bit of work.” Nevertheless, every minute is worth it for these two, who have had a positive reception from friends and strangers alike. “We were really lucky at the start,” says Mark. “A lot of people had tried and liked the sauces already, so when we launched, we did have quite a bit of support from regular customers.” The business has gone from strength to strength, with a growing base of customers looking to get their fix. Sone’s sauces are stocked by a raft of outlets, mostly in the Kapiti Coast and Wellington region, and are also available to buy online. “We do have a bit of a fanbase,” Mark says proudly. “Including Mike Egan, the National President of the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, who uses the sauces in his restaurant.” The future of the business looks bright, too. “Sone’s head is full of ideas,” says Mark. “We’re looking at doing some dried products, maybe herb mixes or something similar, and there’s a few more sauces we’d like to add to the range. Maybe a couple of drinks too.” Watch this space. sonessauces.com