Jamaica Plain resident Rohan Sookraj, who is known as “the hot sauce man” and ‘the pepper guy’, grew up in South Oropouche, Trinidad. He came to the United States in the late 1980s and for the past 26 years has worked as a materials supply assistant lead at the Boston Medical Center. Several years ago, his sister said he should sell his famous hot sauce to help raise money to throw a holiday party for the children in his hometown. This year, they raised enough money for 200 children to attend the holiday party in South Oropouche and also for a holiday party at the Sparks Center in Mattapan. The Gazette recently conducted a question-and-answer session through email with Rohan. (The session has been edited.)
Q.: You moved to Boston from Trinidad in 1988. What prompted the move and how would you describe your journey?
A.: I came to Boston in search of a career opportunity, as well as create a pathway to a better life, to live my dream and utilize my talents. The journey was challenging, taking many turns, with a myriad of experiences and a great many lessons in self discovery with professional experiences in the service industry.
Q.: Where does your passion for growing peppers and making hot sauce come from?
A.: My passion for peppers is two-fold: One being a cultural taste and cuisine to the Trinidadian people, and following in the footsteps of my late father, Sookraj Indar, who was an avid gardener.
Q.: When you were growing up, your parents instilled values in you about helping others. How did they do that?
A.: My parents lived their lives in service to others, this core value was instilled in me by their example, always giving to family, spiritual and greater community.
Q.: What was your reaction when your sister Sita suggested you sell your hot sauce to help children from your hometown and throw a holiday party for them?
A.: The idea to give a bottle of pepper sauce to a fundraiser supporter grew from the desire to give back, showing my appreciation for their valuable contribution to this year round cause, the children of Boston’s Spark Center, and Trinidad.
Q.: How were the holiday parties in Mattapan and in South Oropouche this year?
A.: The parties were full of fun and festivities…food, games, popcorn, cotton candy, homemade ice cream, special prizes, gifts, and a special visit from Santa. These special events were made possible by the generosity of Jamaica Plain businesses, most notably Alex Homans of the Frogmore, Ideal Pizza, and the Blue Nile.
Q.: If people want to help out with the fundraising and purchase your hot sauce, how can they?
A.: For anyone interested in making a donation and wish to receive a jar of pepper sauce, please contact me at 857-417-8123 or [email protected] gmail.com.