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  • Writer's pictureXimena Diaz Velazquez

Dr. Monique May: A Physician Revolutionizing the Plant-Based Condiment Industry


In our latest interview, we had the pleasure of speaking with the remarkable Dr. Monique May, the founder of Physician in the Kitchen. With a background in medicine and a passion for cooking, Dr. Monique is revolutionizing the plant-based condiment industry with her signature Worcestershire sauce alternative. In this blog, we'll dive deeper into Dr. Monique's journey, her brand, and her mission to create healthier options for comfort foods.


A Fusion of Passions


Dr. Monique's journey began as a board-certified family physician with over 20 years of clinical experience. However, she felt a strong desire to combine her medical knowledge with her love for cooking. This led to the birth of Physician in the Kitchen, a brand that merges her expertise in guiding people toward healthier lifestyles with her culinary skills.


The Inspiration Behind Physician in the Kitchen


During the interview, Dr. Monique shared the influence her grandmother had on her life and cooking. Tragically, she lost her grandmother to complications related to high blood pressure and smoking. This personal experience deeply influenced her approach to medicine and inspired her to help others enjoy comfort foods in a healthier way. Thus, Physician in the Kitchen was born—a brand dedicated to creating plant-based alternatives to traditional condiments.


The Worcestershire Sauce Revelation


One of the highlights of the interview was Dr. Monique's discussion about Worcestershire sauce. Most people are unaware that Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, making it unsuitable for vegans. Dr. Monique saw an opportunity to develop a plant-based alternative that captured the same umami flavor profile. Her Worcestershire sauce substitute, lovingly called "W sauce," is made with organic, vegan ingredients and is lower in sodium compared to leading market alternatives.


Challenges and Aspirations


Building a business from scratch comes with its fair share of challenges. Dr. Monique highlighted the importance of time management while juggling her full-time administrative job and her brand. As a small-batch producer, scaling up and finding a reliable co-packer are crucial steps on her journey to bring Physician in the Kitchen to store shelves nationwide. Despite these obstacles, Dr. Monique remains determined to compete with industry giants, leveraging the demand for locally made and locally sourced products.


Impressive Applications


Dr. Monique's Worcestershire sauce alternative has a wide range of uses. It can elevate the flavors of barbecue sauces, plant-based ribs, chili, and even sautéed mushrooms. With its unique umami profile, this condiment adds depth and richness to various dishes, making it a must-have for plant-based enthusiasts and food lovers alike.


Dr. Monique May, the visionary behind Physician in the Kitchen, is transforming the plant-based condiment landscape with her Worcestershire sauce alternative. Her dedication to creating healthier options for comfort foods and her fusion of medical knowledge and culinary expertise make her a driving force in the industry. As she aims to scale up her business and compete with major players, Dr. Monique's commitment to quality and her passion for a plant-based lifestyle continue to fuel her journey.


Stay tuned for more exciting developments from Physician in the Kitchen as they strive to revolutionize the condiment aisle with their delicious and health-conscious offerings.


> Episode’s transcript


Bryan (00:01.282)

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Plant-Based On Fire podcast. I'm your host Brian today. And today we are joined by the amazing Dr. Monique May with Physician in the Kitchen. So I'll try to do your introduction a little justice and turn it over for you to, to expand on that. But Dr. Monique is a board certified and licensed family physician with over 20 years in


of clinical experience. She's also a two-time Amazon bestselling author of her books, Meal Masters, and Doc Fix My Plate, Physician in the Kitchen's Prescriptions for Your Healthy Meal Makeover. She's well known for her kitchen skills, and Dr. Monique hails from New York City and is hanging out with me in Charlotte, North Carolina right now. So, Dr. Monique, anything else you'd add on that amazing background that you have here?


Dr. Monique (00:55.072)

Thank you, first of all, Brian. Thank you so much for having me. What can I say? You said I'm from, you say I'm from New York? I'm a New Yorker, call North Carolina home. Love to travel, obviously love to cook. My son just finished his freshman year of college and I've got some amazing trips coming up in the next few months. So what else do people need to know?


Bryan (01:16.854)

That's awesome. That's awesome. Yeah, I'm a fellow New Yorker as well. I actually moved to Florida for a little while and so now I guess I'm a halfbacker, right? So anyway, it's great to hang out with you for a few minutes today and talk about it. So I know you kind of got a little bit of everything going on in this plant-based world that we're living in here. So you are practicing right now and doing a couple other projects. What is the, how do you divide the time up here?


Dr. Monique (01:25.52)

There you go.


Thank you.


Dr. Monique (01:44.068)

Well, I don't practice anymore. I practiced clinically for 20 years and now I crossed over to the dark side. I'm on the administrative insurance side now. So that's my full-time job right now. But yeah, I do my full-time job and then I do my other full-time job, which is working on my brand physician in the kitchen.


Bryan (01:48.063)

Okay.


Ah, okay.


Bryan (02:03.662)

That's awesome. Well, I think we should do a whole separate speaking panel on how us plant basers have to infiltrate in a big way all the corporate fiefdoms. But tell us more about physician in the kitchen on that front. And it's something to do with Worcestershire sauce. Tell us more about that too.


Dr. Monique (02:24.484)

Yeah, so Physician in the Kitchen is my brand. It's actually trademarked. And it really is just the combination of my two passions, which is as a physician, I coached and told people and made suggestions on how they could live healthier lives. And then I also like to cook. I like to cook healthy, delicious food. So I'm always in my kitchen. If I'm not out doing something else, I'm in my kitchen, which is my lab, I call it.


And so one day physician in the kitchen just kind of stuck. And so, yeah, I use, my grandmother was a big influence on me. Happy Mother's Day we just had recently. So to all the mothers out there, but yeah, my grandmother was a big influence. She was in Alabama, I was in New York, but even before FaceTime and all that, we were able, we were very close. We stayed in touch. And I actually lost her at an early age, only age 67.


to complications of high blood pressure and smoking. And so that's really infused my approach to medicine. And again, you know, wanting to help people enjoy comfort foods in a healthier way, right? And so I like to think I carry a little bit of her with me and what I do. And so, yeah, that's kind of it in a nutshell. Oh, that's a great job.


Bryan (03:44.418)

No, that's a great background. Sorry. Sorry for your loss on that. Um, but, uh, I think it's, it's so interesting. Uh, I don't think of Worcestershire sauce as vegan in any way, shape or form. So talk to us about that.


Dr. Monique (04:00.872)

Yeah, so I bought a little bottle here for show and tell, right? So this is what it looks like. So yeah, so you know, pop quiz for your listeners, what makes, why is Worcestershire sauce not vegan? Like who, you know, why is it not vegan? Why is this even a thing? Why are we even talking about this?


Bryan (04:19.402)

Yeah, I don't know. I just assumed it's got some sort of milk product in it, or maybe even some secret fish sauce or something like that. I don't know, I just don't think of it as vegan, right?


Dr. Monique (04:30.036)

Yeah. Well, I used to I used to host a show on Facebook called Veganish. And one of the segments I used to do on the air was called Vegan or Nah. And so I started off by just going through my refrigerator and looking at condiments, you know, and saying, hey, you know, you don't really think about this. And I'll transition. Let me just give you a little bit of my personal story. I turned 50 in 2020. So what else happened in 2020?


Bryan (04:56.498)

small pandemic thing.


Dr. Monique (04:59.184)

shut down, you know, no big deal. So that really, if that doesn't make you take stock of your life, I don't know what will. And so I said, you know, I want to become a little more plant-based. I've never been a real big red meat eater. So that wasn't a big thing for me, but just, you know, reading and watching documentaries and things that really starts to make you wonder about the food supply. And so I said, well, you know, let me give this thing a try. So I started with my refrigerator.


right? And I just went in there, kind of looked at the labels on some of the condiments I had, and I was like, Oh my God, high fructose corn syrup and this and that, and everything, everything, right? And barbecue sauce and so forth. So I came across the Worcestershire sauce and it has anchovies. So to answer the question, yes, it has anchovies in it. Which, you know, if you're completely plant based, you don't want to eat. So, and people may not know this.


Bryan (05:35.102)

In everything, in everything


Dr. Monique (05:56.844)

It has, some people have fish allergies. And the way that they may manifest it is when they eat Caesar's salad. Because Caesar's salad dressing is made with anchovies. And so I just was like, well, you know, what if I made up a recipe that, you know, doesn't have anchovies in it? So that's kind of how the sauce was made. That's how my recipe came to me. But yeah, I just thought it'd be cool to start with that. Cause ultimately I wanna have a line of physician in the kitchen condiments.


Bryan (05:59.31)

Mm-hmm.


Dr. Monique (06:26.408)

And I figured, why not start with the one that's the most difficult to say? Everything else, you know, everybody can say ketchup, right? What's the challenge in that? Exactly.


Bryan (06:32.908)

Yeah.


Yeah, exactly. I think we have to get you in touch with Heinz because it's very, very hard to find a ketchup nowadays that doesn't have the high fructose corn syrup and it is what I think. Yeah.


Dr. Monique (06:45.776)

It is, it is, you gotta look for it, for sure.


Bryan (06:49.194)

Yeah. Well, it is Worcestershire sauce. I don't know. I have trouble saying it as well. And I have sampled it a few times with you and it is absolutely delicious. So I can't I can't say enough good things about it. I encourage you to to everybody who is listening to reach out and grab a bottle and try it and impress your friends with a very unique and wonderful flavor that you if you have never been.


Dr. Monique (06:59.741)

YELL


Thank you.


Bryan (07:15.942)

a meat eater or you have and you forget what that tastes like, it does, in my opinion, bring back a lot of memories of some stuff I used to have. So tell us more about the ingredients. Like where are you sourcing them and are they non-GMO and all that kind of stuff?


Dr. Monique (07:31.38)

So yeah, so right now it's purely, this is a family run business. All right, now I make it in my kitchen. But yeah, the ingredients are organic. And instead of using, so let me just kind of back up. So the anchovies give it that kind of salty, umami kind of meaty taste. And so to replace that, I use miso, which is a soy product. And my formulation is actually lower in sodium.


than some of the leading low sodium market leader. Worcestershire, Worcestershire, Worcestershire, now I can't say it. Worcestershire sauce is on the market. But you can always say W for short, W sauce for short. But it is a tongue twister. But yeah, so the ingredients I use are vegan. Not necessarily GMO, but they're ingredients that really shouldn't be, like the miso.


isn't really something I would think would be GMO. And so I just use, you know, it's really the spices, like the onion, garlic, so forth. Just those things that give you that flavor bomb, that umami flavor bomb that you can use in soups, in salad dressings, you know, your plant-based burgers, right, like you said, you really wanna recapture some of that meaty taste.


It can be used pretty much anywhere you would use a condiment that you want to just bump up, bump your flavor up. But it a little bit goes a long way. You don't need a lot to get that.


Bryan (09:09.29)

Absolutely, yeah. I think, I can't imagine that, like such a little flavor burst to some salads and stuff. You've got an amazing cookbook that kind of goes along with it to a degree and stuff, but what is your favorite recipe from that where you add the W sauce on it?


Dr. Monique (09:25.852)

the W sauce, I have to say probably my, my,


Dr. Monique (09:33.232)

My barbecue sauce, you can totally use it in that. I actually have a plant-based rib recipe in there that you can use it on. Probably some chili, things like that. So there's a lot that I have, that I've used. I actually, oh, mushrooms. One of my favorite things to use it on is sauteed mushrooms. You go ahead and you saute them and as they're finishing up, hit them with a little bit of the sauce and it really bumps that flavor up.


Bryan (10:02.826)

Yeah, I just did some on the grill with just the salt and pepper the other day. But you're right. I really got to get a bottle just for the mushrooms alone. I can imagine it. That's awesome. So tell me a little bit more, like what are some of the challenges you faced while trying to build the W sauce business and the physician in the kitchen sort of plant based empire that you're creating?


Dr. Monique (10:12.285)

That's the best you could see. Yes, yes.


Time management definitely is one. As I mentioned, I do work full-time for someone else right now. And so, and building a company or business from scratch, it's a full-time job. I mean, and I have help. I have a virtual assistant, I have a social media manager because there's no way, like if I had to do all of that stuff, I would never get out of bed. Like it just, I would be too overwhelmed. But for me.


The issue really is, is because it is small batch made, is being able to produce in bulk. And so my next hurdle or my next accomplishment that I'm gonna claim is being able to scale it and work with a, you know, a co-packer. That's one of the, something I really wanna be able to do this year. Someone who's going to be true to my ingredients so that I know that bottle after bottle after bottle is what I intended because my name is on that and I need for it to.


be, you know, hit out of the park every time. So those are kind of some of the big ones. So getting the funding for that, right? All that costs money. And so, and then being able to just really hit the ground running because I do wanna, I see this being on store shelves right there with the big boys one day. So gotta get it out there for people to be able to ask for it and make that happen.


Bryan (11:44.478)

I see. And you have, do you have any inroads there? I was going to, I was going to say, how do you think you're going to compete against some of the big players in this condiment space?


Dr. Monique (11:52.48)

You know, I think for me being that I'm here in the Charlotte area, a lot of stuff is local now. People want locally made, locally sourced. I was just watching something, some infomercial, and it was saying how, and again, a lot of this was bought by the pandemic, that the searches, they do the geo trackers or whatever, and people are searching for things nearby, and then they're


I think, and I'm fortunate to be in an area that kind of straddles almost two states. So there's that. And then I think once I just get that one, like if I could get affiliated with a local grocery chain, I think would be helpful as well. Because again, if they're trying to promote local businesses, then that would give me a leg up, I think.


Bryan (12:46.186)

Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think if we look back at our parents' generation, they were the ones that did have most local meats and local vegetables coming in, and we've strayed away from that. So I can't stress enough the sustainability side of this, has to come back around, and we do have to find ways to shop local and keep things local on all fronts. So what you're accepting is some people to help in some other major cities, keep the recipe true to form


Build the WSock Empire. That'd be great. Yeah.


Dr. Monique (13:16.572)

Yes, that's right. That's right. This is my other baby, right? My main baby is in college, so this is my new baby. And so you put something out there. You want it to be well-received, and you want it to be like you intended. And like I said, batch after batch, to really have that same flavor and impact that it's had from the beginning.


Bryan (13:24.883)

That's right.


For sure. You talked a little bit about the cost and stuff. So how much does the bottle cost? And obviously we can get it off the website and stuff, right? So what is the website? How much does it cost?


Dr. Monique (13:50.516)

soon.


So right now, so the price right now is $15 a bottle, it's for a 10 ounce bottle. And it's, my website is physicianinthekitchen.net and that's my store. And so, but you can also, I'm on Instagram, also Shemeet, you can always message me. Because again, because it is, I'm making it myself. We, they're made, they're pretty much made to order. So like when you order a bottle, it's made that day or the next couple of days and shipped out to you.


And so we're actually in the process right now of kind of tweaking, because it is an acidified product, there are some, I do have to use a little bit of a preservative, but I'm using a naturally occurring preservative, and so we're just tweaking that to get that just right. And then, so reformulating, I guess what I'm saying is, we're in the process of reformulating, but it won't affect the taste, it should not affect the taste at all. So, once that's ready to go.


Bryan (14:45.742)

And that'll let you get, yeah, that'll get you on the store shelves and let it sit a little bit longer if needed on that. And so, um, when I say like, how do you, I lost my train of thought here. Sorry. Um, I guess the accessibility, like it's that balance between some of the high quality ingredients and, and making it affordable on that front.


Dr. Monique (14:51.33)

Exactly, exactly.


Bryan (15:15.595)

is the, I don't know off the top of my head. I have to say, I would guess regular W sauce is five or $6 a bottle kind of a thing. So at scale, you should be able to bring that cost down.


Dr. Monique (15:28.524)

That definitely is my intention. Because again, this is something I think needs to be on the shelves. Because I have a lower sodium content, my product is good for people. You know, I am a physician. So my product is good for people who have swelling issues, so like kidney, or heart, or liver problems, anything that makes them kind of retain salt. Or if they don't have blood pressure, right, and they're just watching their salt intake. I myself have high blood pressure, so I read those labels, look for that salt. So.


Bryan (15:54.795)

I know.


Dr. Monique (15:56.868)

This is a product that will, even if you're not vegan, right? It's just, if you are just a little more health conscious, that's good for you. So yes, being able to buy ingredients, you know, at cost and again, partner with someone who's kind of got the footprint and I'm just coming in with the recipe, will definitely bring those costs down. Also, mine is a little larger. My bottle is a little larger than some on the market.


Bryan (16:24.449)

Mm-hmm.


Dr. Monique (16:24.808)

Some of the vegan ones on the market are only about seven or eight ounces. So I do either we'll look to kind of fall more in line with them, but I kind of like me and the outlier. I think, you know, you get a little bit more for your money and we'll look at that as well as we move forward. But I like having a few unique qualities and aspect and how we bring all that in line with the lower price point is really important.


Bryan (16:35.255)

Yeah.


Mm-hmm.


Yeah. I mean, I took that plant based certificate course through Cornell a few years back and the standard American diet is just getting way too much salt everywhere you look. So, so good to see such a low sodium product coming out that'll give you that great flavor and pop on that front. So


Dr. Monique (17:05.05)

Yeah.


Bryan (17:12.438)

What advice do you have for some other plant-based businesses out there that might be tuning in and listening to us? You know, how should they get into this space and how can they make a positive impact in the movement we're all against?


Dr. Monique (17:24.316)

I would say there's room for everybody at the table. Don't think, because there are about three or four vegan Worcestershire sauces on the market now, but they don't have what I have. And so there's something, there's room at the table for everyone. Identify a problem before your customers know they have the problem and solve it for them, right? And then I think if you do that, and you define your niche,


Bryan (17:34.546)

Mm-hmm.


Dr. Monique (17:54.332)

um, show them the value and what you bring to the table. Um, I think you'll, you know, you'll define it. Be creative, be creative and don't, don't be afraid to, to partner and network because, um, you know, if you've got a really bright light that can shine, but you, you know, you hide it under undercover and no one can see it. No one's going to know. So, and I struggle with that myself, you know, you got to always kind of pitch yourself. You should always be selling yourself and I don't always do that. So I'm talking to myself a little bit here too.


Bryan (18:18.542)

Mm-hmm. Yeah.


Dr. Monique (18:23.86)

It's okay to brag or yourself. It's okay to say, hey, look, I've got this product. This is why you need to know about this because X, Y, and Z, and then people thinking and talking about your product. So.


Bryan (18:35.598)

That's awesome. Well, that is kind of a wrap on the questions that I had. Is there anything you feel like we didn't touch on that we should for a moment? Otherwise, tell us again, where can we find you, more information about you, follow you, and where can we pick up some amazing WSauce?


Dr. Monique (18:53.521)

Yeah. Yeah. So, no, I think this was, this was a great interview. I love the wide reaching questions. So I'm on all social media, Physician in the Kitchen, Physician in the Kitchen. I'm even on TikTok. Follow me, like all that stuff. My store, it's Physicianinthekitchen.net. And again, you can, you know, place orders on there. We do ask that you allow a few days, just because again, I do.


make the badges myself, you know, for shipping and all that. But we're, I want to get the form, the formulation, the reformulation down and then we'll be letting people know when they can order it. But if you go to the website, you can go ahead and kind of get on the wait list. And then that way, once we've got the new product ready to go, we can, we'll be, you'll be one of the first to know.


Bryan (19:43.166)

is awesome. Thank you again, Dr. Monique for being on the show and helping us create a very amazing plant based future. Really appreciate your time today.


Dr. Monique (19:52.477)

Thank you. Thank you, Brian, for having me. My pleasure.


Bryan (19:55.315)

Bye now.

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