Cooking with love: Sauce Boss Southern Kitchen


Coming from very little, finding a passion for cooking and turning that passion into a successful business in his restaurant, Julius Thompson is a prime example of the American dream.

Sauce Boss Southern Kitchen located in Draper, at 877 E. 12300 South, started as a food truck in 2016. Thompson opened the restaurant three years later, according to his website.

But Thompson’s love for cooking starts even earlier than that. In between the cold of Chicago and the sizzling summers of Salt Lake City, Thompson was born in Chicago but spent most of his youth moving back and forth between the two cities.

Sauce Boss Southern Kitchen, 877 E. 12300 South. Photo by Eric Jensen.

“Unfortunately, both my parents were addicted to drugs, and I have several cousins whose parents were also addicted to drugs. And just like any decision you make, the consequences don’t just affect you and we were the unfortunate collateral damage of their addiction,” Thompson said in a Zoom interview.

Thompson said that due to his parents’ addiction money went to drugs instead of food, shelter, heat and electricity.

He learned how to survive in the cold dark garages in which he found himself living for weeks and months at a time.

“When you live like that you appreciate any food that comes your way. A lot of the times school lunch was our only meal and we learned to appreciate that,” Thompson said.

He used grit and determination to survive. Those qualities also characterize the food he now serves at his restaurant. Soul food is one of the only cultural originals in the United States. While most of the food within the U.S. was bought here by immigrants, soul food was developed by those born on American soil and based on the culinary traditions of enslaved peoples.

It was a product of being given scraps and having to find ways to make lower quality food palatable.

The food made out of struggle is now being crafted by a man who was raised in struggle.

“It’s food that came from pain and turned into something beautiful,” Thompson said.

That pain exists within Thompson.

“I was alone most of the time. I was disadvantaged and sad, and not much to go for, not much to do as far as nobody gave me time and attention and a creative outlet,” he said.

This is the inflection point in Thompson’s life, the moment that got him started on his cooking journey. He did not allow himself to be dragged down into the darkness. He fought and he looked for allies.

He found those allies in his grandmothers and some of his aunts.

“Growing up it was always a struggle of paying rent, having electricity, hot water and of course with all that food was scarce. So, whenever I stayed with my grandmother or my aunts I was always attracted to the kitchen and all the effort they put in to cooking and serving and making different types of dishes that were near and dear to our family,” Thompson said.

Being in the kitchen bought him happiness. Cooking turned a light bulb on and created Thompson’s soul philosophy on soul food, and his business model, cooking with love.

Julius Thompson, happy in the kitchen. Photo courtesy of Julius Thompson.

“I think basically you’re putting a piece of yourself, a piece of your soul, a piece of your energy, into this food. I truly believe that transfers to the person that’s eating it. They’ll be able to taste all the effort and love and passion you put into it, and in turn it fills them with a bit of happiness, and that carries on to other people they share interactions with, and people share happiness, and it spreads,” Thompson said.

It spreads. Love, happiness, acceptance. If you serve delicious fried chicken, catfish, grits, cornbread, and refreshing sweet tea, they will come and the happiness will spread.

Happiness spreading through food, communion, the warmth of a kitchen, an idea so hopeful and resilient that it cannot possibly be stopped.

Lauren Yancey, the head line cook, sees this philosophy every day, and it is part of the reason she has stayed with Thompson for four years as part of the family at Sauce Boss.

“He’s happiest when he’s serving other people,” Yancey said in a Zoom interview. “He likes going to the tables and talking to people.”

Thompson loves people. He spent hours experimenting with food because of it. At first trying to replicate his grandmother’s fried chicken.

Thompson said at first, he was naïve. He didn’t understand the process of making great food, the step-by-step preparation that can change the outcome of a dish.

From the type of pan used, to the order in which the chicken is breaded, to the fat you use to fry that chicken, every step is a process that can yield different results.

“Being naïve and younger I thought it was just the spices. But as I got older,” Thompson said, “I realized you have to season the chicken before you flour it, season the flour, make sure you fry it at the right tempature, use the right oil and fat to cook it in and all those things play a factor in the overall flavor and finished product.”

In a follow-up text Thompson said the type of oil doesn’t matter as much as the temperature, 350 degrees. He said that keeps the chicken crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside.

Everything at Sauce Boss is made from scratch, Yancey said.

Thompson’s fried chicken, which he spent years mastering. Photo by Eric Jensen,

It took time for Thompson to create this haven of soul food. It took a painful childhood in which Thompson often went hungry. It took years in the kitchen perfecting his skills. Time experimenting trying to replicate his grandmother’s fried chicken recipe, kept a secret by the family. It took hands that were attached to an artist’s mind. It took cooking with love.

Thompson is the American dream. He is a proud father of five working hard to create a life for his children that was better than his growing up. He is a published author and spokesman about issues everyday Americans are facing and a man with endless drive who is in love with what he does.

That love propels his art, soul food, and will keep him going for as long as he possibly can in the kitchen.

The American dream lives in Draper, in the form of a soul food restaurant whose owner has a passion for cooking with love.

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