Barry McNamara  |   Published December 20, 2021

Get Willy With It

Monmouth grad Will Deuerling ’13 has a hit on his hands with several hot sauce flavors.

WILLY SAUCE: Will Deuerling '13 has created several flavors of Willy Sauce, a handcrafted hot... WILLY SAUCE: Will Deuerling '13 has created several flavors of Willy Sauce, a handcrafted hot pepper sauce that features "flavor over heat."MONMOUTH, Ill. – Looking to take your entrée from good to great? Then it might be time to #getwillywithit.

That would mean breaking out the Willy Sauce made by 2013 Monmouth College graduate Will Deuerling of Elburn, Illinois.

WILL DEUERLING: To market Willy Sauce, the 2013 grad relies on both the art and communication cla... WILL DEUERLING: To market Willy Sauce, the 2013 grad relies on both the art and communication classes he took at Monmouth.Deuerling has been dabbling in hot sauces for a while now, but he stepped up his game last year – partly due to a brief furlough from his day job due to COVID-19 – and made 250 bottles. Most of them sold at a local Kris Kringle market, and friends and family got the rest of the bottles.

“Fast forward to this year, I got my LLC (Limited Liability Company business structure) and all the fancy food licenses I needed,” said Deuerling.

And he tripled production, producing 750 bottles, with sales at the Kris Kringle market again being a major help in moving his inventory.

Drawing on his Monmouth experience

As a high school student from Batavia, Illinois, Deuerling didn’t have his heart set on a particular college or major. Ultimately, his choice came down to a big school in the big city (DePaul) or to the opposite, Monmouth. The small-school experience won out, and “It proved to be a good decision,” he said.

Deuerling was active on campus through such commitments as the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and serving as a Scot Ambassador. He studied communication and art, and both disciplines have been beneficial in his new business pursuit.

“I’ve really enjoyed this opportunity to combine communication and art. … It’s nice to use the skills I learned at Monmouth. It’s a win-win.” Will Deuerling

“I’ve designed all the labels for the sauces and the logo used on merchandise and T-shirts,” he said. “It’s in hibernation now, but I also created and designed a website for Willy Sauce. After graduation, I didn’t know what kind of job I really wanted, so I’ve really enjoyed this opportunity to combine communication and art. Prior to the bartending I do now, I did some website and social media stuff, but doing it for somebody else, my heart wasn’t in it as much as it is now with my own product. It’s nice to use the skills I learned at Monmouth. It’s a win-win.”

 

‘Flavor over heat’

And it’s a win for Deuerling’s customers, too. Two of his top-selling sauces are pineapple habanero and hot lemon garlic. The latter is endorsed by his mother, who got Deuerling started down his path when she’d have him work alongside her in the family garden.

“It’s got a light, bright lemony flavor, and then a savory flavor from the garlic,” he said. “My mom doesn’t like really spicy stuff, but even she likes that one.”

Of the other sauce, he said, “It’s not overly fruity, and the sweetness from the pineapple cuts through the heat. I really like it on pizza. It’s a very versatile sauce.”

Deuerling started out with tomatoes and other “simple stuff” in his gardening, but he now enjoys working with peppers on the hotter end of the spectrum.

Similarly, his first attempt at making a hot sauce was based on a simple recipe he found online.

“It helped me get the gist of it down,” he said. “But going forward, I’ve been able to make it my own. I shared the first batches with friends and family, and they said it was pretty good.”

Despite the more adventurous plants, his product isn’t the type that can only be eaten on a dare.

“I focus on flavor over heat,” he said. “But it does have hot peppers in it, so it’s going to have a little spice to it.”

For Obscurity Brewing in Elburn, Deuerling is working on a smoked honey habanero sauce that will pair with the restaurant’s focus on barbecue.

“For the time being, this is just a side hustle, but it would be kind of nice for it to be more. Hopefully, it could be productive enough to be my main gig.” Will Deuerling

 

“It fits their niche really well,” he said of a potential large-scale client. “Hopefully, it all pans out over the next few months.”

Deuerling, who makes Willy Sauce out of his own kitchen, also plans to move his operation into a larger space, courtesy of some friends.

“I really want to get it into some smaller local restaurants,” he said. “For the time being, this is just a side hustle, but it would be kind of nice for it to be more. Hopefully, it could be productive enough to be my main gig. I’m just taking it one day at a time. There’s nothing you can do that’s any faster than that.”

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