I had a humbling realization driving my way home. Steve Seabury made an event in a manner of a few months that would rival any of the other spicy festivals currently out there. Just some guy from Long Island who has a small hot sauce company, who loves this industry and community so much, that he is driven to the point to prove those naysayers out there wrong. He was determined that this show would be big, would be a success and his Screaming Mi Mi awards would mean as much as those that are all ready out there. That really isn’t my humbling realization though, that is just facts I am throwing out to you. My humility comes from the vantage point that I want to help too in some way, but my blog, the other chile blogs are meaningless to the success of a show. We might add a few people to the overall numbers, but the impact is infinitesimal in the scope of things. The means to the end comes down to the event planner. Steve and his partner Ari put together a show that drew a crowd in windy and chilly conditions on the first day that I was shocked to see.
I kept on thinking to myself on my long drive back to Northern Virginia that from the start I wanted to give Steve something special for his show, and I came up with the Volcanic Peppers’ Fiery Pizza Challenge. This was my town and I wanted to bring it something big. There was no need to do it. It did not bring people to the show, people would have come anyway. That is just how good of a job Steve did. We were setup in the back of the show and even if we got a decent crowd, the volume of people that thrived in front of each vendor, in the VIP area, outside the VIP area and next door at the Smorgasburg food market was mind-boggling. I kept looking, amazed at what I was seeing. People kept coming. Sure many hung out drinking up the fine liquor that sponsored the Expo, but there were so many more around tasting, sampling and most importantly…BUYING! Our little pizza eating contest was fun, but it was not needed. No contest was needed. There was music entertainment, cooking demos and that open bar in the VIP area that was more than satisfying.
With no wifi nor bloggers’ booth area to be had, there was nothing left to do, but just to enjoy oneself. I walked the show as I usually did. Talking with my chile brethren. Meeting new companies and enjoying the new products that were offered. NW Elixirs, the new kid on the block, a Kickstarter company that I had sponsored a few months back, was now in the big show. They kicked ass. They have 4 sauces, and all 4 were rewarded with an award during the Screaming Mi Mi’s. I had all ready tried their #1, but the #2, the Verde Hott, might be the best new green sauce for the year. The cilantro comes right through, and I had some tonight, so I know how much it shines on food. It is really my favorite new hot sauce at the show, and there were quite a few. I have tried so many, that what might be new to others, might not be new to me.
A couple of other companies of note that only had 1 or 2 products were Dirty Dick’s with a different type of tropical blend that I rather enjoyed. The other was Pinata with 2 levels of heat, but some good pineapple flavor. Another company, A & B American Style had a simple look and a simple carrot-based hot sauce, and I really liked it, but I did not get any heat from it, so that was a bit disappointing. I really think they have something here though. Frankie V’s Kitchen had the coolest look at the show, and their products had some heat and decent flavor, but nothing won me over. Lastly there was the NYC Hot Sauce Company, which had a very fresh habanero flavor and an artsy-graffiti label that might confuse one to what the name of the company really is if you did not know it all ready. I overheard that from some others. Not a bad sauce, and they advertise that they always have free shipping. As long as you do not spending $8 for 2 bottles, it isn’t a bad deal.
There were some of my favorite products of all time at the show. The ones I use the most, and that is not to say I do not use the other companies at the show, but there are some that I use more than others. Mild to Wild Pepper & Herb company have my favorite BBQ Sauce. Defcon Sauces has my favorite Buffalo-style spicy wing sauce. CaJohn, I do not need to say more. I also want to point out a company you might not have heard about and should. Baron’s International Kitchen has one of the best tasting Caribbean Jerk Marinades in the world. I would put them toe to toe with Flaming Joe’s, which is one of the most popular jerk sauce in our industry. Baron’s has a flavor that is different than Flaming Joe’s that sets it a part, and the hot actually is hot. Both companies are great in their own way, but Baron’s is a company you should all be buying. We did a REVIEW with them 2 years ago, and I have been a fan ever since. Another company that I have not seen in a long while is Dragon’s Blood Elixir. Douglas Crane, the man behind the company is a very creative hot sauce artist. He is constantly putting out tasty seasonal sauces. Once they sell out, in comes another batch for the next season. He is like a hot sauce of the month club in the making.
I can’t name all the other great companies, because there are many at this show. Check out this list of who’s who: HERE I took plenty of pics, so they are all fully represented HERE, so don’t feel bad I did not mention in my hierachy of hot sauces. I love you all. One I need to mention is Johnny McLaughlin from Heartbreaking Dawns who split his Saturday going back and forth with the Expo and Smorgasburg with his Pit Beef venture. I was a little late to act on his sandwich, but word was that it was seriously good eats. I did try the Chicken & Waffles in one of the vendors which had a solid following and the longest wait of all the vendors. It was well worth the wait, and I loved everything about both sides of the meal. Thanks to Sir McMillan who treated me to the scrumptious lunch. The next day I was back walking the Flea Market and had some food vendors and I tried the bacon on a stick which was pork belly with maple syrup and seasoning, and the corn on the cob covered in butter, cheese and chile seasoning. I loved that.
The Screaming Mi Mi’s Awards can be seen below, and for the complete list you can go to Scott Robert’s site and see it HERE. It is always great to be part of any award ceremony because you get to enjoy the good tidings as they happen. A lot of joy and happiness when someone hears their company name announced. I hope these awards become the new standard and other companies join in on them next year. Congrats to all the winners. Watch the ceremony in the video below.
Overall the show had me occupied because I felt the comfort of my chilehead friends and did not feel the need to blog. Hey, no one really reads this crap anyway. Prove me wrong with a comment. If I get 4 I will be shocked. Anyway, in a nutshell I had fun, bought some stuff and fought the urge to buy more. If I had endless pockets I would show even more support than I do, but I have more dust bunnies in my pockets than cash. As for my humbling experience, I can’t help feeling that it might be better to just let everyone else do the work and sop blogging. I go through this withdrawal every year right after the spicy cooking contest. I do not think I have enough people enjoying what we do here. Hopefully soon I will have a relaunch of my website that I was promised last year, and that might re-energize me to the point that I feel the excitement again. In the meantime, as I contemplate, I have great memories of one of the best spicy events I have ever attending. Plus I got to spend time with my Mom too. Not too shabby.