This past weekend an influx of chilliheads hot sauce explorers entered the Brooklyn Expo Center to attend the Fourth Annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo, put on by Steve Seabury of High River Sauces. The event was a huge success for Steve with 45+ vendors and the 1000+ attendees. The beautiful mid 70 degree sunny day, and selection of Craft Beers and oysters was the cherry on top.
Vendors filled the interior and exterior of the expo center. Accompanying the vendors outside people gathered to play corn hole (or bag toss depending where you're from) and enjoyed selections from local food joints between hot sauce tastings.
One of the most popular vendors at the expo was General Electric, and not just because they were giving out Ice Cream sandwiches to cool the burning mouths of attendees. The innovative company paired up with High River Sauces to create a limited edition hot sauce. The sauce, named 10^32 Kelvin (the temperature at which all things begin to break down), sold out within hours of being released. It consisted of Carolina Reaper and Trinidad Moruga Scorpion peppers which possess 2.2 million and 1.2 million scoville heat units, respectively. After each brave soul tasted the sauce, they went behind a thermal imaging machine which showed what happens when your face meets the heat.
Saturday was a big day for five legends in the hot sauce industry. David Tram, Marie Sharp, Blair Lazar, Jacob Frank, and Sam Garner all received red jackets and were inducted into the Hot Sauce Hall of Fame. Here is a quick background on the five inductees:
- Marie Sharp - Marie Sharp is from Belize and started making sauces in the early 80's. Marie's husband inherited a 400 acre farm and her sister began planting habanero peppers without Marie's permission. She kept the peppers, but had no market to sell them. Instead she made them into her world renowned Marie's Pepper Sauce. Marie gave a very inspirational acceptance speech, and the mother of ten is the first women to be accepted into the Hot Sauce Hall of Fame.
- David Tran - David Tran is owner of Hoy Fong Foods (Sriracha Sauce). Yes, THE Sriracha Sauce or "Rooster Sauce". David was born in Vietnam and fled the country and arrived in Los Angeles following the Vietnam War, selling his own Sriracha sauce out of his Chevy van. He's since then come a long way and the company's annual revenues are now over $60 million with over 20 million bottles sold each year.
- Blair Lazar- Blair is a chilli pepper extraordinaire, and it is well known that he holds the Guinness World Record for the hottest product created: Blair's 16 Million Reserve. Blair has been featured on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, Rolling Stone Magazine, and many other popular publications. He brings his creations to over 31 countries and is a well known leader in the hot sauce industry.
- Jacob Frank - Frank was the creator of Frank's Red Hot. Frank's dates back to 1918 when Adam Estilette and Jacob Frank partnered up to create a cayenne pepper sauce in New Iberia. Frank's really took off in popularity when it was used as the key ingredient in the first ever Buffalo Wings in Buffalo, New York.
- Sam Garner- Sam Garner was the creator of Texas Pete, which originated in 1929 about a decade after Frank's. Today Texas Pete is the third largest selling hot sauce in the country. When Sam and his three sons were brainstorming names they almost settled on "Mexican Joe", but eventually decided it should have an American name so they went with "Texas Pete."
The five members of the 2016 Hot Sauce Hall of Fame weren't the only ones that brought some hardware back home from the expo. The winners of the 2016 Screaming Mi Mi Awards were announced on Saturday. What are the Screaming Mi Mi Awards? They're a very competitive Hot Sauce award with hundreds of entries for different categories of sauces. A number of popular food critics are blindfolded and select their favorite. Here are the 2016 categories and winners:
- Asian Style - Yai's Thai (Chili Garlic Hot Sauce)
- Caribbean Style - Krista's Caribbean Kitchen (Jerkalicious)
- Louisiana Style - Hoff & Pepper Hot Sauce
- Chipotle Stlye - Caption Foods - Old Man Gourmet Creole
- Fruit Based - Dirty Dicks Hot Pepper Sauce
- Habanero - Crowley's Hot Sauce - Haba Nice Day
- Jalapeno - Hell's Kitchen - Retro Jalapeno
- Pepper Blend Mild - Jersey Barnfire - Black Garlic
- Pepper Blend Hot - Ghost Scream Hot Sauce
- XXX Hot Sauce - Cully's Hot Sauce - Firewater
- Best Hot Sauce Label - Puckerbutt Pepper Company - The Reaper
- Grand World Champion - Ghost Scream Hot Sauce
- Chicken Wing Sauce - Defcon Sauces - Defense Condition #3
- Spicy BBQ - Texas Rib Ranger Hot BBQ Sauce
- Spicy Salsa - Texas Brew Salsa - Hot Iron Habanero
Throughout the expo there were many eating competitions including, but not limited to, guacamole, chicken wings, pizza, spicy meatballs, tacos, burritos, and ending with the infamous Smoking Ed's Reaper Eating Challenge. Wayne Algenio ending up crushing the Guinness World Record by eating 119 grams of Caroline Reaper peppers in 60 seconds.
It was great to see Hot Sauce owners connecting with people and educating them about their sauces, chili peppers, and the industry as a whole. Everyone was in great spirits, which in large part is due to Steve Seabury's tremendous execution of the event. For those not close to NYC, be sure to check out the 2017 calendar of hot sauce and chilli festivals.
If you are interested in trying some of the hot sauces that were at the expo be sure to sign up for the Craft Hot Sauce Club. Each month you will get some of the best small batch hot sauces from around the world delivered right to your door.