Mama Africa’s Super Spicy Sauce

Cathy Tshilombo-Lokemba says the heat in her intensely spicy pili pili sauce “talks to you.” We believe this is true, and it has quite a story to tell. In the latest episode of the Taste of Harmons Podcast, she shares the story of how her family history—and the history of her people in the Congo—shaped the flavor of the family recipe that makes up Mama Africa’s Pili Pili sauce.

Pili pili is a popular condiment in the Congo and Ivory Coast regions of Africa. “Pili” means pepper and, legend has it, the sauce is so spicy you have to say pepper twice. Hot peppers, onions and garlic give this sauce deep and flavorful combination that packs extreme heat.

Mama Africa is one of this year’s 2021 Local Development Grant winners, and we’re excited to see what they will do to expand their local roots. 

You won’t want to miss the beginning of the episode, when our hosts Chef Lesli Sommerdorf and Brandon Young do an unforgettable taste test.

To learn more about our dedication to local makers and producers, you can listen to this podcast, Let’s Talk Local with Todd Jensen. You can also learn more about some of other Harmons’ Local Development Grant winners, including Hollow Tree Honey, Beehive Cheese, Salsa Queen, McFarland Farms, Solstice Chocolate, and Bar 10 Beef.

Cathy Tshilombo-Lokemba is Mama Africa, both the face for and creator of her pili pili sauce. She is a refugee, a former clothing designer, and a former restaurateur. She studied interior design in Belgium before coming to the United States, where she spent time in Dallas and eventually ended up in Utah, and she loves sharing her culture through both design and food. 

Visit Mama Africa’s website to learn more about Cathy and her family’s love for food.

At Harmons, we’re lucky to have incredibly talented artists at each store, and we’re sure you’ve seen their amazing chalk art as you wander throughout every location. We’re excited to be able to feature some of their work on our podcast blog. The the second picture in this post is by Stephanie Robinson of our Taylorsville location.