“Call me Betsy, that is what everyone in Wellington and New Zealand calls me,” says Betsaida Rivas Teutenberg. Betsy and her husband Wayne make a range of Latin American artisanal chilli sauces and chimichurris under the brand Betsita’s. The name comes from her family’s nickname for Betsy when she was growing up in El Salvador. Her sauces are a combination of the recipes she learnt from her grandmother and mother and the techniques that she learnt in culinary school. She met her husband-to-be while he was travelling in Central America, then moved to New Zealand just under 8 years ago. Here she started making chilli sauces for friends and family. The chimichurri she made was unlike any that was available here – Betsy’s recipe makes full use of sweet red capsicums as well as various chillies – and was so popular she was encouraged to start a small business selling her sauces.

“I decided to create my own recipes using different culinary traditions, from Spanish and Caribbean influences to indigenous techniques, so it’s a fusion of different traditions.”

Last year Betsita’s red chimichurri was a finalist in the Cuisine Artisan awards (part of the NZ Food Awards), winning favour with its bright and vibrant colour, a mild to medium heat and a great balance between of vinegar and spices. Betsy believes it is best used as a finishing sauce for dishes.

The attention gained from being a finalist has seen the brand picked up by a number of speciality stores and seen growth in sales through their online store. The couple has been selling the sauces for just over a year now, and are looking to see how the business grows over the next year or so before committing to larger scale production. At the moment the business is truly artisan; they make the various sauces in micro-batches to meet the demand as required.

Most of the chillies Betsy uses in her products come from Napier, although she also goes and picks jalapeños and other ingredients from Penray’s in Otaki. All of Betsita’s products are handmade by Betsy and her husband; he’s a fan of the superhot sauces.

Betsita’s labels are inspired by the art of the La Palma area of El Salvador, naive in style, with bright colours and depicting everyday culture and scenery. Look closely and you’ll even see tea leaves and parrots on the labels. It’s a deliberately rustic look that is appealingly charming.

The colourful sauces sing to the heart. They are packed with flavour and balance and they manage to lift even the most mundane of meals into something more. Perfect for late summer eating, or at any time when you need a little boost. betsitas.co.nz

Freekah and zucchini salad with haloumi and red chimichurri Fry some onion and garlic, add freekah and cover with twice the amount of water or stock. Bring to the boil, cover and lower the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed. Meanwhile, fry, bake or grill rounds of zucchini. Add to the freekah along with slices of pan-fried haloumi, the grated zest and juice 1 lemon and with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Spoon over the chimichurri to serve.

Squid, red chimichurri and sweetcorn Cut the kernels from a couple of cobs of corn and pan-fry in a dry pan for a few minutes until a little blackened (cover with a lid if they start popping out of the pan). Set aside. Return the pan to the heat, add a little oil and add cut, scored pieces of squid. Fry for a minute or two until cooked through, then add the corn back to the pan, along with a couple of spoonfuls of red chimichurri and some coriander. Serve with rice and a cucumber salad.