Chef Pii (29), who refused to go on record with her real name, has an answer to all the criticism that has been directed at her and her fledgling brand. First among them: Her product, she says, is legal and safe. She makes it in a commercial facility certified by the Food and Drug Administration, as required by law, she says, not a home kitchen, as some suggested. She says that she had made the sauce, which she uses to top fried chicken, fries and vegetables, long before she produced it for sale. “I’ve been using it and serving it to my clients for a year—no one has ever gotten sick,” she says.
She owns up to early stumbles, such as mislabeled bottles. TikTokers had seized on flaws in the original packaging and questioned whether any of it was believable. She says a typographical error in the graphic design mixed up the number of grams of product with the number of portions (444 portions instead of approximately 30 portions totaling 444 grams). And after receiving pushback, she added the instruction to “please refrigerate.” She apologized for the mistakes. “This is a small business that moves very, very fast,” she said in a video posted yesterday.
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When customers started receiving their products when the shipment started on July 1 (she said she has sold about 700 bottles so far), people complained that the packaging was poor, with some posting photos of leaking bottles. Chef Pii says she has changed shipping company and apologized to customers who received damaged bottles.
And to those who said they suspected the sauce contained something not listed — at least one video suggesting she used mayonnaise to thicken it had garnered 3.9 million views as of Thursday afternoon — she says that’s not the case. But she doesn’t reveal everything about her process: “I don’t want to explain my process, and I don’t want to be bullied into it.”
Previously, Chef Pii had only given a cryptic answer to many on social media who wondered if she was operating legally. “Yes, we follow the FDA standard,” she said in a video, adding that “we are currently in laboratory tests, so once we go through laboratory tests, we will be able to present to stores, to put it the pink sauce in the shops.” She now plans to post a long video, perhaps as long as 45 minutes, tonight on YouTube to answer all the questions people have asked.
Many people found it strange that the sauce’s inventor would not describe the taste, an omission that helped fuel the mystery surrounding the sauce – and fueled the feeling that she was hiding something. But Chef Pii says she wasn’t intentionally being cowed or even trying to create hype. She says she really can’t put into words the flavor, which some have described as ranch-adjacent. “I wasn’t trying to be rude or anything,” she insists.
Another thing she says isn’t a gimmick? The characteristic color of the sauce, which comes from the red dragon fruit, or pitaya. Chef Pii says she has suffered from depression and anxiety and had long found the fruit’s properties useful in treating her conditions. “I have a relationship with this sauce,” she says.
While some people on social media dug into possible legal or health issues, others just enjoyed playing along with the spectacle.
No because people were talking all about not trusting the vaccines for COVID. But willingly spent $20 on some watery “pink sauce” because they saw strangers on TikTok eating it. Lmao.
— Bella Goth (@HotCommieGal) 20 July 2022
Chef Pii says some of the online backlash has stung. “I’m a normal person, and I woke up to a million insults,” she recalls. Still, she has big plans for the brand, starting with bringing the price tag down from the current $20 to make it more accessible. She doesn’t want to sell her brand to a larger company, but she dreams of collaborating with one—perhaps a fast food company that serves her sauce.
But she’s trying to cushion the blow while keeping busy filling more orders.
“Yes, the sauce is extremely controversial, but to my curious, artistic people who are actually into the pink sauce craze, I love you,” she said in a video this week. “The haters don’t take my light away.”