Steak Sauce – A Family Tradition
One of my fondest childhood memories was spending summers with my family in Breezy Point, Queens NY. During some afternoons after playing in the big surf and at our bungalow at 22 Jamaica walk, I’d often watch my father prepare my Grandma Frances’s favorite steak sauce. He would then marinate a flank steak or sirloin for several hours and I would wait already hungry with anticipation. The smell of the food cooking in that sauce was wonderful as it floated through our neighborhood in the salty sea air. My brother Chris was notorious for stealing a piece before dinner.
The three summer months we spent each year in Breezy along the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica bay that overlooked the Manhattan skyline were heaven. A big part of that was the wonderful food my father would grill using the “secret” family recipe. We loved it and I craved that sauce and those summer days as did my 4 hungry siblings who argued over the portions.
My brothers, sister and I weren’t the first to eagerly anticipate that special sauce. Dad told me that my Aunt Norma made it best and that he couldn’t wait to have it when he finally came home from Europe after 2 long years in WWII. Joseph F.X Loughlin sure appreciated life when he returned. He never talked about the war but he did show me how to make the steak sauce. I still have the original recipe in his handwriting and keep it on my refrigerator as a reminder of those wonderful days.
Sharing the “Steak Sauce” Love
Over the years I would make the sauce for friends and bring it along on ski trips, camping, or fishing. I always got great reviews and the most common reaction was: I have never tasted anything like this! You need to produce this stuff. It was always in the back of my mind to someday produce it on a larger scale. When my father passed in 1990, I decided for sure that I would do that, “someday”. But I got busy with my career and life demands and it was always a “someday” project.
I continued to make the Irish in my kitchen for friends, loved ones and as gifts. I created my own labels and continued to get small batches out to friends and loved ones. It always accompanied me on many adventures with my buddies. One day after imbibing too much of the drink my pal Bobby Mangan and I discovered that it was a better hangover cure than a Bloody Mary after a long night out. We had run out of bloody mix he said “well let’s try some of this stuff.” It worked and it became a staple after many nights of too much fun. Folks kept encouraging me to produce it over the years, but I just didn’t know how to go about it all and the idea rested inside of me as a someday dream.
Then, In 2005 I reconnected with Roy Guzman, a St. Joe’s college friend who had a successful salsa business with a family recipe. Roy and I talked about my steak sauce and how I would go about the process. We met over the years and I kept saying “someday” until in the spring of 2008 that someday finally arrived the dream came alive in Roy’s professional kitchen. We made about 10 cases of small batch Steak Sauce and experimented with the taste. I remember saying: “That’s it! We got it Roy” I cannot express how exciting it was to see the first bottles poured and to hold the finished product in my hand. I am forever grateful to Roy for all of his help in getting me started.
A Dream Becomes Real
Decades after those happy childhood summers, the “Irish” was a thread that ran through so many good times. My sister Tara, now an artist currently living in Savannah, Ga. had designed the logo and labels and the first cases were put out to local markets in Portland, Maine. Moran’s Market and Pats Meat Market were favorite places for me to get a great steak in my neighborhood and they were gracious enough to be the first take on the Irish. It was successful in small batches for many years but labor intensive, not cost effective and time consuming, but I continued on with passion.
In Jan of 2010, I retired from the great Portland Police department and finally had the time to take Loughlin’s to another level. After speaking to many professionals in the field I discovered that it was very difficult and a discouraging process to get into the market.
I considered giving up my idea of expanding. Just to see it on local shelves in Portland was thrilling. I was getting great feedback. It was a good memorial for my dad and my pal Bobby who had passed away at the early age of 42. I also still enjoyed giving it away as gifts, especially during holidays. So I kept going on a small scale. I just didn’t know how to expand professionally in this new marinade and business world after years of public service. I am an optimist and I was not ready to give up.
That fall I drove up to Pemberton’s gourmet food company in Gray, Maine and had the pleasure and opportunity to meet Dave Fillinger who had just taken over the business. I explained my idea and gave Dave a few samples of my small batch. He as somewhat skeptical of a joint business ventures, but was glad to help get me started on a new level. I was once again about to give up on this endeavor, but kept it going. Well, about a month later Dave called me back and told me he really liked my sauce a lot and had some ideas for a business together. This was the beginning of a dream come true. Within months we were cooking and experimenting with the taste and then producing it on a larger scale in his professional kitchen. It was thrilling. Dave was the engine behind the spicy blueberry version and it’s a fantastic blend that compliments the original version. The rest is history and Loughlin’s Irish Steak Sauces are moving fast with the help of Pemberton’s Gourmet foods. So try a little Irish. I guarantee you’ll love it!