Willard Reynolds Ashburn, III ~ Culinary Visionary and Entrepreneur and CEO of Ashburn Sauce Company.
Ashburn, a naïve of Virginia Beach and is the quintessential, southern gentleman, who grew up on his family’s farm. A true sportsman from an early age, he enjoyed hunting, fishing, horseback riding and anything else that took place outdoors. To this day, Ashburn claims to cook and eat anything that ‘flies, walks or swims’.
When he was a boy, Ashburn’s father owned two restaurants, and was passionate about what he served his customers. Willard remembers that if he wasn’t in school, fishing, riding or hunting, you would find him in either the kitchen of their businesses or in their kitchen at home, creating and cooking. The kitchen, at home, was a commercial grade that’ allowed for greater research, development and experimentation’.
After high school, Ashburn attended Hampden Sydney College and received a Bachelor of Science. His first work experience was in oil and natural gas exploration in the early 1980’s. But by the 1990’s home was calling and that led Ashburn to permanently move home to Virginia Beach. Ashburn settled into commercial real estate and enjoyed great success in the field. He enjoyed cooking for friends and family along the way and threw huge barbeques, primarily because it made him feel deeply satisfied to see the joy in people’s faces when they tasted his latest barbeque sauce and other culinary adventurers.
He began his “official” journey as a Culinary Entrepreneur, in 1990’s and bottled his first BBQ sauce, Bucking Williy’s Sassy BBQ. He decided to name the sauce “sassy” because when one of his friends described it as such. Today, Ashburn believes that the name still fits.
And in 2000, with over 40 years of culinary brilliance, Ashburn took a leap of faith and left his ‘day job’ and began creating and manufacturing his own line of barbeque sauces and more. Ashburn believes that he has simply followed his heart. That is also the year that he launched his, now critically acclaimed, Sassy Mary Premium Bloody Mary Mix.
Since 2003, Ashburn’s sauces have won numerous awards, including several Scovie Awards. The Scovie Awards are a program of the Fiery Foods & Barbeque Annual Show and falls under the category of Gourmet Specialty Foods. These awards are the equivalent of winning an Oscar for best picture, for each sauce that is chosen by their division.
In 2004, Ashburn, and Ashburn Sauce Company, became a member of Virginia’s Finest. This trademark program is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In order to become a member, products and manufacturers must meet rigorous quality standards and its members are said to be “the best of the best”, due to their expectations of a consistent, uncompromising commitment to quality. The same philosophy is behind every Ashburn product. Ashburn uses only the best ingredients and purchases ingredients from all over the world, if necessary. Driven by an unwavering commitment to excellence, in 2007, Ashburn received a graduate degree, in “Better Process and Control”, from Cornell University. Ashburn’s culinary brilliance is complimented by his dynamic personality. He is, truly, passionate about people who will cross his path through his sauces. His soul motivation behind his passion is to provide a wonderful experience that food can have when ‘done right’!
Today, Ashburn Sauce Company and its products have grown, in all aspects. Demand for the Bucking Willy line of barbeque and hot sauces is at an all-time-high. During the summer of 2011, Ashburn moved his production facility, previously in a converted horse barn, to a state-of-the-art semi-automatic manufacturing plant in Virginia Beach. In March of last year, in partnership with fellow Virginia’s Finest member, Ernie’s Epic Foods, the Ashburn facility took the next step forward by converting to a, predominately, fully automated line. In doing so, Ashburn Sauce Company became the third manufacturer in Virginia to implement this type of technology. Ashburn says that with the new automated line, this will allow the company to meet growing demand of high-volume customers.
Ashburn continues to expand both his menus and push the creative pallet of his customers. Refreshingly, Ashburn and Ashburn Sauce Company are vibrant and have a cutting-edge philosophy and blue print for many future sauces combinations and other gourmet specialty foods!
In March of 2012, Sassy Mary shared the stage with her sibling, Clammy Mary Premium Bloody Mary Mix. Also, in July of 2013, Crabby Mary Premium Bloody Mary Mix with 100% Blue Crab meat, Shrimp, and Lobster made her debut!
Come get ya some!