September is Chilehead Month

Chilehead Monthly September logo


Before we get going on our 2nd newsletter, I wanted to dedicate this month’s newsletter to our good friends Merle and Diana from Hellfire Hot Sauce in the memory of their 2 sons Mike and Jim who were lost in a fatal car crash last Wednesday. I can not imagine how horrible it would be to lose two children on the same day. There are little words you can use to console them at this time as the pain must be unbearable. Yet, I encourage you to leave them your condolences on their company Facebook page HERE and show them the love this community has to give.

When I lost my Dad to Cancer in 2010, I decided to honor him with a tribute called the Lenny Award that I give out on every December 19th to the best products of the year. December 19th is the day he passed away. I chose to celebrate his life, than to mourn his death. It will be a while before Merle and Diana can feel whole again, but I urge them to follow in my footsteps and celebrate their lives with your own special tribute. Something you know they would be proud to be associated with. I am so sorry for your loss, as well as all the people that personally loved your boys. Good people like yourselves should not have to endure such pain and sorrow. You know if you ever need an ear, I am but a call away my friends.


As they say, the show must go on. Welcome to the September newsletter for Chilehead Monthly…

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The Great Chicago Vacation & Fiery Festival

Official hot sauce

At the beginning of the year when I had to choose my vacation time at work, I decided to choose the 2 weeks surrounding the Great Chicago Fiery Foods Fest. My vacation started with my birthday which was another incentive, but I had not been to Chicago in 20+ years. When I was there the first time, I had a limited stay, did a Cubs’ baseball game, did a double-decker bus tour, but the food we had was Michael Jordan’s restaurant and fast food. The second visit was for a wedding in Kalamazoo, MI and we only flew into Chicago and stayed one night for a bachelor’s party. Being a foodie I wanted to explore the best of deep dish pizza and Italian Beef Sammiches this time around. Having a fiery food festival build around my visit was my kind of vacation.

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2015 NYC Hot Sauce Expo: History in the Making


For those of you that made it down to the 3rd Annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo, you found yourself in the middle of something special. One of the most important moments this industry/community has ever had was the Inaugural Hot Sauce Hall of Fame. We got to see 5 of the biggest names inducted live in what will be a start of something bigger than all of us. I was lucky enough to induct the great Dave Hirschkop of Dave’s Insanity Sauce fame. It all started with Tabasco creator Edmund McIlhenny as the first inductee as it should be. The other 3 greats were the ever-entertaining Chip Hearn of Peppers, the legendary Pope of Peppers Dave DeWitt, and the most award winning hot sauce maker of all time, CaJohn Hard. Chip, the Pope and CaJohn all received their official HoF red jackets and rings in person on stage. I felt like I was apart of something truly great and even got myself in a couple of pictures with the legends. I can not thank host, promoter and visionary Steve Seabury enough for giving me the honor to be a part of this historical moment. Hear what Dave DeWitt said about his experience on his blog: CLICK ME

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NYC Hot Sauce Expo Preview

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Just in case you did not notice the Ticklemaster part of the above ticket, it is fake. There is no ticket for $499.99, so please do not panic! The time to panic is when you enter one of the many scheduled events at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo. Such as the Puckerbutt Guinness Book of World Records Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper pepper eating record for 1 minute. A slight change from last year’s 3 pepper eating and done display. That will end the show on Sunday.

Then there is our 3rd Annual Fiery Pizza Eating Contest co-sponsored with our friends at Volcanic Peppers and the infamous Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. Each contestant will get a Volcanically Enhanced Grimaldi’s pizza that they have to eat in a pre-determined amount of time. The first one finished or eats the most will be declared the winner and get this beautiful trophy…

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Spicy Product Makers Round Table – Part 2


Part 2 of our interview with some of the spicy product makers in our Chilehead community continues where we left off. You can see Part 1 HERE. We elevate to more serious questions in this part including new spicy trends and tips for people who want to get into this industry. Unfortunately, the drinking that began well before the interview kicked off is now starting to take it’s toll with some of our participants. As the discussion continues we begin to lose a few of our makers to outside influences. In the end, I think we touched on some great points, and hope it is well perceived to those that have put in the time to watch it.

Our round table existed of Jeremy Walsh from Bigfats Hot Sauce, Ed Bucholtz from Born to Hula Hot Sauce, Steve Seabury from High River Sauces, Chuck Evans from Montezuma Brand Sauces & Salsas, Johnny McLaughlin from Heartbreaking Dawns and Joe Leicht from Flaming Joe’s, Inc. A big thanks to them all for giving us the time to do this. As well as a huge thanks to CaJohn for letting us use his place and private meeting room to house it in.

If we are lucky enough, we will get to do this round table discussion again with some other great spicy product makers at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo next month and/or the Bowers Chile Festival in September. If you are a spicy product maker interested in doing one of these and want to get yourself a seat at the next one, please let me know. Thanks and enjoy part 2!

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Spicy Product Makers Round Table – Part 1


Whilst gathered at CaJohn’s Flavor & Fire Headquarters in Westerville, Ohio for the Fiery Food Festival Weekend at the North Market, I got a chance for a special interview. This special interview was with some of the faces in our great chilehead community. Since we had much fun over the years with the Bloggers Round Table, I thought it would be great to do a similar version with a select crew of our various award winning sauce makers. This is the 1st of 2 videos in which I get to ask some topical questions to this panel of hot sauce makers. To add to the discussion, there had been some drinking going on which only added to the conversation as you will soon find out. There is quite a bit of profanity, so please be aware of this before starting the video when surrounded by those easily offended. The discussion deteriorates pretty fast between part 1 and part 2 as you will soon find out as the liquor starts to kick in with some of the makers. Our round table existed of Jeremy Walsh from Bigfats Hot Sauce, Ed Bucholtz from Born to Hula Hot Sauce, Steve Seabury from High River Sauces, Chuck Evans from Montezuma Brand, Sauces & Salsas, Johnny McLaughlin from Heartbreaking Dawns and Joe Leicht from Flaming Joe’s, Inc. A big thanks to them all for giving us the time to do this. As well as a huge thanks to CaJohn for letting us use his place and private meeting room to house it in.

I will post part 2 tomorrow at 7pm est. If some of you other spicy product makers would like to do one of these at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo or perhaps at Bowers in September, I am sure we can do another one or two. The more the merrier since there are so many great spicy product makers out there. Enjoy the round table! There will be the occasional shaky camera, but it will be steady most of the time. Also, you will note another camera crew here and there. They are filming something very special for one of our own in the community, and I am not sure I am allowed to mention more than that at this time.

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2014 North Market Fiery Food Festival

Poster Fiery Foods WITH background

My favorite spicy food festival is back and ready to delight all those that attend. Why is this event my favorite? It is not to knock all the other great shows out there for which there are quite a few, but there is something very intimate about this festival that the bigger shows can not possibly achieve. It all kicks off Friday the 14th at the CaJohn Flavor & Fire warehouse where John and Sue Hard have their annual Open House event. Food is spicily prepared by Chef Steve Lawrence for those that want to grab a bite, and you have the full arsenal of CaJohn’s condiments at your disposal to add a kick or enhance your food. Not that Chef Steve’s food ever needs any form of doctoring.

The Open House allows for the spicy product makers vending at the festival and the chileheads going to sample, to mingle with each other in this relaxed setting. “The Wall” in the warehouse is like leaving your footprint behind for others to see on future visits. People scrawl their signatures and companies’ names and logos, and sometimes messages of their presence in this dedication to the chilehead community. If you come to the Open House, you MUST grab a marker and add your name to the lengthy list of fiery food fans from days gone by. It is all part of the tour you get from the CaJohn factory guide who will answer all your questions except for the secrets of the trade that have won them more product individual awards than any company in the fiery food business.

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The Great Spicy Chicken Salad Challenge 2014

Chicken fish cigarette

It is returning once again to the North Market Fiery Food Festival in Columbus, Ohio. Taking place during President’s Day Weekend February 15-16, 2014, this year’s challenge is once again a vendor only challenge open to anyone selling at the North Market whether it be as a festival vendor or an artisan at the marketplace downstairs. No amateurs are allowed to enter, but anyone can be a judge! The challenge kicks off Saturday Feb 15th at 8am, and all entrants need to submit 16 or more ounces of their creations before 7:50pm to qualify. All entries must be turned in at the back of the bar area upstairs where the headquarters of the festival will be held.

Who can turn some chicken into something extraordinary?

Chicken Salad is pretty much a leftover meal that we often overlook. If you go into some gourmet delis you can find some top notch chicken salads that will completely wow you. I have made some slight spicy variations over the years, and have not reached Nirvana yet. So I am going to sponsor the Spicy Chicken Salad Challenge again in hopes to find the ultimate spicy chicken salad recipe. These culinary wizards do not get to compete too often against each other, so I wanted to promote something just for them and to stir their creative juices. There will be a nice trophy to the winner which will be announced Sunday morning at the start of the 2nd day of the festival.

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Buddah’s 2013 Ultimate Chilehead Roadtrip – Part 1

Ragin Cajun Hat

My trip began at my place of work in Reston, VA, continued to Houston, TX and then onward to New Orleans. I got to take part in 2 shows, visited with some chilehead friends along the way in my travels and got to spend some quality time with a lot of great people. I did close to 3,000 miles, and it was a trip I will never forget until the day my brain stops functioning. This trip changed me in a very good way, but it wasn’t without some highs and lows. In the coming days, I will tell you much of what I experienced, the good and the bad. I have a lot of people to thank and praise, so please allow me that license to kiss a little booty from time to time. So let me get going with how it all started…

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The Church of the Chile Pepper with Pastor Sam Peters

Pastor Sam & Joyce Peters

One week ago we had a Sunday Morning sermon held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA for the Chile Pepper Extravaganza. The man behind this makeshift church was Patter Fam Sauces Pastor Sam Peters and his wife Joyce. The congregation was made up of vendors and chileheads from the event. The video below would have been posted right after the sermon but my YouTube account was compromised and Sam and Joyce told me it would be fitting if I waited until today – the Sunday after – to post the video. I started filming right after the second hymn began. I hope you enjoy the very first Church of the Chile Pepper.

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2013 Fiery Food Weekend – Day 1 Pics


The day started with the Great Spicy Chicken Salad Challenge in which we received 9 Vendor recipes and had roughly 25 judges. Congrats to Chad Lowcock for his Asian Fusion version and taking home the Angry Golden Cock trophy. From there came the amateur guacamole and hot sauce events in which yours truly was 1 of the judges. Then we moved onto the eating events – HBD’s Scorn Bread Challenge, Race City Sauce Works’ Schweaty Samballs & then finally the Jalapeno eating contest. I filmed the scorn bread and Samball contests to be seen sooner than later.

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2013 Fiery Foods Weekend – Cajohn’s Open House

CaJohn given my Lenny award

What has become a mainstay experience in the North Market Fiery Foods Weekend, CaJohn & Sue Hard open up their warehouse for their annual Open House. For me, it isn’t about the free, yet delicious spicy grub it is. It isn’t about the tour of the facility, been there, done that. For the newbies it is a thrill, especially the signing of “the wall”. What the open house means to me, is to just be with my friends. Simple. I go to many shows during the year. I have been lucky, but it still doesn’t make me yearn for the next show once the last one ends. Sue and John embrace us and make us feel so welcome to be a part of their lives, even if it is for a fleeting moment.

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2013 North Market Fiery Foods Weekend

logo - shirts

I have much much fun traveling to all these special shows, but I do not think I feel more at home than when I visit Columbus’ North Market for this show. Maybe it is how welcome I feel when I see my good friends CaJohn & Sue Hard in their element. Their show, their home and they really do bring the hospitality. Especially with their Annual Open House event. I know it isn’t just me they welcome with open arms, but everyone that comes into their spicy lair. They have treated me so much like a family over the years I get all warm and fuzzy when I see them and get a empty feeling in my belly when I leave. Of course the tummy issue could be a result of the fiery imbibing throughout my stay that has incinerated my innards. I am no Doctor, but I swear it is from leaving all my chilehead friends behind, not just the Hards, but I think I miss them the most.

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ZestFest 2013…I Wish I was there!


Another Zestfest show, and another show I can’t make. I haven’t been to Zestfest since 2009, the last show they had in September back in Fort Worth, TX. It was where many a chilehead stayed in the Stockyards for their post-event entertainment portion of their stay. With it in January and being from the Northeast I would be risking my vacation days on the weather being non-disruptive. If a snow storm hit during either my departure to or from the show it would totally suck. So I have chosen to attend other shows that did not pose such a risky weather forecast. In so giving up ahead of the game, I sit here wishing I was there now, before the doors open. The forecast here? Snow storm this morning, albeit a tiny storm and a small one again tomorrow. I don’t think there would have been too much of a delay in the flights though, but my choice was made.

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