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Shauna Muamba scores a winner with her new range of sauces

SAUCY: Shauna Muamba holds one of her famous dishes

BEING MARRIED to a professional footballer has its perks. For one, there’s the enviable bag and shoe collection, the frequent holidays to tropical locations and living in a world where money is no object.

But for Shauna Muamba, wife of former Bolton midfielder Fabrice, all those riches meant nothing when her husband suffered a cardiac arrest during a match against Tottenham Hotspur in 2012, aged just 23.

“In that moment, I could’ve been the richest woman in the entire universe and that would not have changed the situation,” she recalls. “Money is a cushion, it makes life a little more comfortable, but it’s not the be all and end all. It can’t change things when it’s really, really important.”

Though his heart stopped for 78 minutes on that north London pitch, Fabrice made a full recovery.

Following medical advice, he announced his retirement from professional football six months later.

Though the “accident”, which is how Shauna describes that fateful day, grabbed headlines nationwide and left the country in shock, the Muambas have positively grown from the experience.

“Sometimes in life you forget what’s important and you focus on things that are actually quite irrelevant in the scheme of things. For me, it just put things into perspective,” Shauna admitted.

“Before Fabrice’s accident, we had different goals. We had specific goals. We wanted to crack the England team, we wanted to do this and we wanted to do that, but the best thing to come out of it is me appreciating life, appreciating good health and appreciating my friends and family.”

It also gave the pair, who met in a Manchester nightclub when Shauna was at university studying for her masters in media enterprise and married in October 2012, time to set up and launch a new business venture, Mrs Muamba’s cooking sauces.

The mouth-watering marinades, stocked in selective Asda stores and in North West of England chain, Booths, range from Caribbean Curry Sauce (Shauna’s favourite) to Caribbean BBQ Sauce, the top choice for her sons, Joshua, 5, and one-year-old Matthew. Each draw on the spices and fragrances from Shauna’s Jamaican upbringing.

The former Miss Clarendon College (2003) and Miss Central Jamaica High revealed: “Trying to replicate those flavours was hard,” she says. “I had to replicate the taste of the gravy from the chicken, which is cooked down in meat, into a jar without meat in it.”

But for Shauna, a self-confessed “feeder”, this issue wasn’t insurmountable. It was a challenge she was more than willing to take on.

Before launching her winning range of sauces, she had single-handily run Shauna’s LTD, a catering company whose clientele included Fabrice’s Bolton Wanderers teammates and UK soap stars.

WINNING PAIR: Husband and wife Fabrice and Shauna Muamba

“I would do Fab’s lunches and it just snowballed from there. His teammates were like, ‘oh, what’s that you’re eating?’ The orders started flowing from there.

“It got to the point where I said, ‘do you know what Fabrice? I’m spending real money giving people free food.’ I love feeding people, so I said, ‘do you know what? I think I might be on to something here.’”

Though the business proved to be popular with well-known names in sports and entertainment, it didn’t prove viable with just one pair of hands and after Fabrice’s heart attack, the 29-year-old found she “could not keep up with orders and had to take my website down”.

While nursing her husband back to health, Shauna looked into her life-long ambition of opening a restaurant, but found “the type of restaurant I wanted, would have cost me hundreds and thousands of pounds. I had to think of something where people could taste the food and that’s how the sauces were created”.

The sauces, which have passed the “critical” family taste test in Shauna’s Jamaican hometown, contain no stabilisers or preservatives and the curried chicken and jerk flavours are gluten-free.

“My family will tell you as it is and they don’t play, they’re so real and blatant.”

Seamlessly slipping into her beloved Jamaican lingo, she adds, “They’d be like, ‘oh Jesus, you have fi give it to me so dry?’ My family are like that. I took the jars to Jamaica on purpose because I knew if they liked it in Jamaica, it would work anywhere and I’m lucky nobody had anything bad to say about the sauces, they loved them all
“Thankfully, the UK has received my products just as well. It’s been overwhelming. I know it might sound silly, but I even have a giggle now when I look on Facebook and see that someone has done something with the sauce and feel really proud about what they have produced.”

The mother-of-two, who has been nominated for entrepreneur of the year gong at the upcoming Manchester Young Talent Awards, has also linked up with the Arrhythmia Alliance (Hearts and Goals), a company that produces automated external defibrillators (AED) - a device that ultimately saved Fabrice’s life - to ensure a donation from each jar sold goes to them and their aim to make defibrillators available to all.

Does she have any plans to explore the idea cooking sauces paying homage to her husband’s Congolese roots?
Shauna, who admits she’s mastered the art of cooking Pondu Madesu, a traditional dish from Congo consisting of beans and cassava leaves in a stew, laughs.

“I can cook a few Congolese dishes, but for me personally, I want to remain Caribbean. I think sometimes, if you pick up too many things you start missing what you started with. I don’t want to lose the integrity of my brand.

“I’m confident that I can cook amazing Caribbean food. I’ve dabbled in Congolese food and I can cook it. I’m not a Congolese expert, but I know what a piece of jerk chicken tastes like. Sometimes you need to stay in your lane and appreciate you have a gift for something and just evolve on that as opposed to trying delve into so many different areas you lose what you started out with.”

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