Sweet Heat Co

WORDS: Ocean Road Magazine Editorial Staff PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied

A little spicy, a little sweet: award-winning condiment reimagines classic hot sauce with honey and hydroponic chillies

While most tastebuds are familiar with the traditional hot sauce, Queensland-based chilli farm, Sweet Heat Co., are reimagining this classic flavour profile with their award-winning condiment, Hot To Trot.

Celebrating a contrasting fusion of sweet and spicy flavours, the American inspired hot sauce combines fiery Carolina Reapers and sticky Australian Mixed Blossom Honey to deliver a unique, unexpected, and mouth-watering creation unlike any other Australian-made condiment currently on shelves.

Ideal for dipping, drizzling, and marinading, Hot To Trot is manufactured using 92% locally sourced ingredients, and contains hydroponically farmed chillies which require 90% less water than conventional chilli crops, and grow 30-50% faster in smaller yields.

Suitable for chicken, beef, and pork dishes, including the quintessential sausage sizzle, Hot To Trot is the recipient of three industry awards, including Best Spicy BBQ Sauce (Willunga Chilli Fest, 2023); Best of the Best Carolina Reaper Product (Mr Chilli Awards, 2023); and, the Silver Medal Sydney Royal Show (Fine Food Awards, 2023).

We sit down with Sweet Heat Co.’s co-founder, Kat Rizk, to learn more about this emerging Aussie classic!


Hot to Trot reinvents the traditional hot sauce with a sweet and spicy taste profile. What was the inspiration behind the unique fusion of Carolina reapers and Australian mixed blossom honey?

I have always loved flavour combinations like salty and sweet, but the combination of sweet and spicy flavours has been my obsession since I tried Mike’s Hot Honey growing up in New Jersey.

There is just something so perfect about the rich sweetness of honey mixed with fiery chillies that is hard to describe until you try it.

When my partner, Tom, started growing Carolina reapers on the Gold Coast we were struggling to find ways to use them that we actually enjoyed without losing all sense of taste from their intense heat.

I started reading a bit more about the Carolina reaper, its history and flavour profile that is often described as fruity with a molten lava finish.

We wanted a way to highlight the fruity flavour while subduing the ‘molten lava’ kick and my nostalgia for hot honey led me straight to the idea of using local Australian mixed blossom honey to bring out the fruitiness of the chilli.

The rich golden floral flavours of the Australian mixed blossom honey perfectly complemented the fruity flavours of the Carolina reaper that are often overshadowed by the heat.

The history of the Carolina reaper and its origins in South Carolina led me straight to the solution for our second goal, subduing the ‘molten lava’ kick, by creating our own sweet and spicy version of a traditional South Carolina mustard based barbecue sauce that is often referred to as “Carolina Gold”.

The insanely delicious combination of Carolina reapers and Australian mixed blossom honey make Hot To Trot, a truly unique and addicting South Carolina inspired spicy mustard based honey barbecue sauce.


Hot to Trot can be used for dipping, drizzling, and marinading. What are some of the unique dishes you, or your customers, have used the sauce for?

One of the most surprisingly delicious and unique ways we have used Hot to Trot is as a replacement for Worcestershire sauce in Kilpatrick Oysters.

The salty brine of oysters and rich bacon mixed with the sweet honey, spicy reaper, creamy mustard and tangy vinegar base of Hot to Trot make for an insanely delicious and perfectly balanced bite.

My absolute favourite way to enjoy Hot to Trot that has become an instant hit with anyone who has tried it is a recipe from my mum’s cookbook Hay Day Country Cookbook “Southern Pulled Chicken”.

The recipe was inspired by a traditional southern slow smoked pulled pork, but swaps out pork for chicken, cuts down on hours of time and labour and makes it an approachable, beginner-friendly and delicious meal.

My mum of course offers an amazing mustard-based barbecue sauce recipe in her cookbook to pair with the pulled chicken but in our version, Hot to Trot is used to marinade the chicken thighs and then drizzled all over the finished pulled chicken burgers. 

The Sweet Heat Co. range has grown to include a number of fiery sauces and condiments. Can you tell us more about each, and is there a variation in spiciness for amateur tastebuds?

What started with Hot to Trot and Hot Honey has now grown to include three additional products that all have unique sweet and spicy flavours and vary from mild to as hot as a product named Hot Mess sounds.

Our goal with all of our products is to represent the diverse flavours from across the US through our own unique sweet and spicy take on regional sauces and condiments that aren’t widely available or known to the Australian market.

Hot to Trot is based on a traditional South Carolina mustard based barbeque sauce, Sweet Heat Co. Hot Honey is based on the infamous spicy honey developed in Brooklyn, NY specifically to go on pizza and our Cowboy Candy is based on the original candied jalapeños invented on a ranch in Texas.

Our two newest products Cowboy BBQ, a mild sweet and spicy molasses-based Kansas City style barbecue sauce, and Hot Mess, a honey habanero chilli crisp, are both uniquely made with by-products from the production of other Sweet Heat Co. products, allowing us to have zero food waste in the production of the entire Sweet Heat Co. product line.

The ‘liquid gold’ brine created in the process of candying our jalapeños for Cowboy Candy is used as the base of Cowboy BBQ, our mildest product.

The golden honey coated habaneros that are the result of our infusion process for Hot Honey are reimagined into a chilli crisp that includes garlic, sesame seeds and chicken salt that’s perfectly balanced by the mixture of Australian mixed blossom honey to create an intensely spicy and flavourful condiment, Hot Mess, our spiciest product.



Sustainability is an important facet of Sweet Heat Co.’s ethos, particularly when it comes to your eco-friendly growing practices. Can you elaborate on this further?

I was lucky to grow up spending summers on my Grandpas hydroponic farm in the Caribbean (Nevis, West Indies) where I was immersed in world where growing practices had to be adapted after decades of depleting the local farmlands of productive capacity.

My Grandpa co-founded Nevis Hydrogardens, a hydroponic farm that allowed the local community to have access to fresh lettuce and herbs grown on their own island.

The benefits of hydroponic growing methods were abundantly clear from spending time on this island and seeing the difference it made in the local community to have access to something fresh rather than waiting days for ships full of produce.

Hydroponic farming uses up to 90% less water than conventional growing methods, allows you to grow up to 4 x more produce in the same space as conventional agriculture, plants grow up to 2 x faster and no soil is required, allowing you to grow in places that were previously unproductive. My Grandpa taught my partner and I everything there is to know about hydroponics and through many Facetimes from across the world, he helped us build our very first hydroponic set up in our backyard on the Gold Coast.

That hydroponic system has adapted over the years into what currently produces all of the Carolina reapers for our best-selling Hot to Trot sauce.

It is so important to us, especially living in Central Queensland, a region that is often hit by debilitating droughts, that we do our part and ensure our growing practices not only produce amazing, fresh chillies but also has as little impact on our local environment as possible.

Sweet Heat Co. Hot to Trot is made with our 100% hydroponically grown chillies here in Tannum Sands and our goal is to be able to expand our hydroponic system to be able to produce all of the chillies for our Sweet Heat Co. products and educate consumers on the benefits of hydroponic farming.

While we work hard to expand our system, all of our other chillies are sourced from local farms in Central Queensland.


What inspired the launch of Sweet Heat Co.? Is your background in foodservice?

Sweet Heat Co. was born from a love of food, a longing for flavours from home and a passion for sustainable growing practices.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a beautiful town in New Jersey, surrounded by lush farms and amazing seasonal produce.

My mum is an absolutely amazing cook, she published a cookbook when I was growing up which eventually led to my parents opening up a restaurant in my hometown.

Almost all of my memories from home are based around food, it was the centre of our family, it was how I grew closer to my father’s Lebanese heritage as well as how I was taught to understand and appreciate where your produce comes from. Cooking became the way I showed my love and appreciation for everyone in my life, and it became even more important when I moved to Australia when I was 21.

It brought me so much joy to be able to cook for my new Australian community and share flavours that were so familiar and comforting to me when I was so far away from home.

I began to realise that it was something I would love to do on a wider scale and be able to share diverse American flavours that I miss from home, with locally sourced Australian ingredients.

It has been an absolute dream to launch Sweet Heat Co. and to have received so much support for our products that are all truly hand made with love.

Sweet Heat Co. has won a number of awards to date. What’s in store for the brand this year?

We have been amazed with the love and recognition for Hot to Trot since we launched and while we have expanded our range of products, we would be silly not to recognise the overwhelming and continued support for Hot to Trot.

We are excited to expand the ways in which people can enjoy the irresistible flavours of Hot to Trot over the coming year with a few fun new variations on the horizon.

 Sweet Heat Co. is a (proud) Queensland brand. Where can people purchase your range of sauces and condiments?

Our products are proudly handmade in small batches in Central Queensland (Tannum Sands) and can be purchased online at sweetheat.com.au as well as through our various stockists across the East Coast of Australia including ChilliBOM in Tweed Heads, That Hot Sauce Shop in Manly, NSW and Mat’s Hot Shop in Melbourne.

You can also find us at various markets across Queensland including Beach Arts Music (BAM) Markets in Tannum Sands and the HOTA Markets on the Gold Coast.

You can find our market schedule on our website and come visit us to try our exclusive market only product Tropical Cowboy Candy, a special Central Queensland spin on Cowboy Candy, featuring locally grown pineapples.