Gloria Allorbi is the founder of Gloria’s Shito, a spicy umami flavored pepper sauce made with Scotch bonnet peppers, red chili pepper, dried seafood and caramelized onions. Allorbi shared the joy connected to a nostalgia for home with Cuisine Noir that she hopes customers can taste when enjoying her small-batch pepper sauce.
For many expats, when arriving to their newfound homes, memories of the familiar gives birth to a nostalgia that is often difficult to satisfy. That was the case for Gloria Allorbi. The Ghanaian native left with her family when she was 12, and that taste for “home” followed her with each move to a new country.
Her journey began in Ghana and then went to the U.K., eventually ending with a move to the United States. Gloria’s Shito pepper sauce came about from “simple nostalgia and the feeling of missing home.”
Shito is a savory condiment used widely in Ghanaian cuisine. Its base ingredients include “spicy, umami, ginger, garlic, onion, pepper, scotch bonnet, red chili pepper,” says Allorbi, who launched Gloria’s Shito in November 2020. The brand has gained customers largely by word of mouth and from Allorbi’s presence online, which her cousin, Nuna Atadja, helps manage.
“I love cooking and have been my mom’s sous chef since I was six years old,” says Allorbi. “I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, and the older I got, the more I appreciated my mom’s cooking. I have always loved sharing my cooking with my friends.”
Allorbi is a cosmetic scientist and has merged her love of both food and science. “I tell people it’s cooking chemistry, meaning I am formulating and creating personal care products and understating what ingredients work well together. Mixing ingredients every day, and when I am home, it’s that same passion in putting ingredients together and building recipes that inspires me,” says Allorbi.
Atadja is the marketing and brand manager at Gloria’s Shito. “The role that I am playing is cheerleader, support and everything in between. I also am connecting Gloria to different opportunities to share her story like with Cuisine Noir, especially things that are focusing on the African diaspora and those types of foods. I reach out to different publications and companies and get our name out there,” says Atadja.
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Since the launch of the Gloria’s Shito brand, the response from customers has been positive. Allorbi wants to maintain that momentum, and Atadja’s wealth of social media and marketing experience is key. “I am really passionate and interested in the intersection between food and media. I have been taking that role with Gloria’s Shito brand,” says Atadja.
A Taste of Home
The Ghanaian entrepreneur created her savory pepper sauce out of a nostalgia that tugged at her after returning from a recent trip to Ghana. “When I came back to the United States, there was a sense of missing home and missing the taste of home. And I thought to myself, how can I have that everyday taste of home to satisfy that craving and nostalgia?” says Allorbi.
She wanted to find a way to capture those same flavors and recreate them in her new home. “And from that, I thought of shito, and it is a common condiment the same way ketchup is to many; shito is that condiment in Ghana that is paired with many savory dishes. It is made with a similar base, which is onion, ginger, garlic, and that concentrated taste complements every dish in Ghana,” says Allorbi.
In time, Allorbi experimented with the local produce and spices she sourced in Los Angeles and made small-batch shito pepper sauce in her home kitchen. She knew if she could make it herself, she would have “that constant feeling of home.”
“I taught myself to make shito. I was thrilled it came out amazing after talking to my mom and I’ve watched her make it. When I eventually put my recipe together, I felt a sense of accomplishment because shito is a labor-intensive condiment to make. It reminded me of my mom’s recipe,” says Allorbi.
Soon, Allorbi shared her new creation with others. Her family gave her great feedback, and eventually she offered it for sale on social media. Her first event as a vendor was at a Juneteenth event in 2020. “ It was a great experience and Gloria’s Shito was born. That motivated me to keep sharing and that’s how Gloria’s Shito came to life.”
Allorbi hopes her shito sauce will allow “more people to appreciate not just Ghanaian culture, but African culture.”
A Ghanaian Staple
Shito is eaten with rice dishes, like jollof rice, or used as a hot sauce, and much like ketchup is used as a condiment for breakfast, stews, and more
“Ghanaian cuisine in terms of the base flavor profile spicy, umami, ginger, garlic, onion, pepper, scotch bonnet, red chili pepper, the sauce is a combination of the blending of these ingredients and fried in oil to caramelization to has an added sweetness,” says Allorbi. There is also a seafood component that enhances shito’s flavor: dried shrimp and anchovy.
Ghana’s rich foodways are influenced by many factors, including its coastline. “The shito sauce originated from the west coast of Ghana where seafood is the common protein. Dried seafood component is added to create that layer of umami flavor,” says Allorbi.
Sourcing fresh, quality ingredients is important in producing the same rich shito flavor Allorbi grew up eating as a kid. “I source my produce from Sprouts in Los Angeles, and I get my dried seafood ingredients from ethnic markets, not sourced from Ghana.”
Unable to find Ghanaian ingredients, she focused on recreating those same childhood tastes from what was available. “I had to be creative in regard to how I source those ingredients. I do see a commonality between Japanese cuisine in terms of the umami flavors like bonito flakes, anchovies, and the dried seafood components. My recipe came about by what was locally available to me, and I was able to create a recipe to mimic what’s common in Ghana.”
Allorbi is eager to expand her brand by creating more inclusive options for customers following a vegan lifestyle. “I have since created a vegan version, same base in regard to the use of ginger, onion, garlic but without seafood. The vegan version is called The Beenie Vegan, and it was born from a friend of mine who loved the original shito sauce but was not used to the fish component. I made the vegan version and she loved it and I named it after her nickname ‘Beenie,’” says Allorbi.
The Gloria’s Shito brand has two flavors: the original pepper sauce and The Beenie Vegan. All products are sold in glass jars available in 8 ounces, 12 ounces, and 24 ounces.
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An Eye on Expansion
Allorbi is eager to expand her operation from her home kitchen. “I’ve made my small-batch shito pepper sauce out of my home kitchen. And in the future, I hope to be able to establish myself out of a commercial kitchen,” says Allorbi.
She is honored to share her Ghanaian roots through her cooking. “And being able to share Shito with so many people beyond the African diaspora is a proud thing for me, and continue to motivate myself to keep sharing Gloria’s Shito with many.”
Keep up with Allorbi as she shares a piece of Ghana with the world. Gloria’s Shito flavorful pepper sauce is available for purchase at https://www.gloriasshito.com. You can also follow Allorbi and the brand on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.