We attended ZestFest this past weekend at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas in Texas to scope out some potential new sauces to carry, enter a few of our own sauces in the Fiery Food Challenge, and give people a chance to try some of our products.
First off, the big news: Our Flaming Chicken Hot Garlic Wing Sauce won both 1st place in the Mild/Medium Wing Sauce category AND for Overall Best Cook-off! We truly weren’t expecting to win Best Cook-off, but we couldn’t be more proud. For that category, we were up against not only the other wing sauces, but also all dry seasonings, all Asian and Jerk seasonings and marinades, all chile con carnes, all pastas—even beverages including Bloody Mary mixes and margarita mixes! Our Irazu Volcanic Pepper Sauce – Chipotle came in 3rd in the Chipotle Hot Sauce category (plus we sold out of it at ZestFest) and the Flaming Chicken Scorpion Fire also came in 3rd for Wing Sauce Hot/X Hot. Not too shabby! You can get a full list of the winners here.
This was my first time at ZestFest, so I was excited to get to try some new products and also put some faces behind the names. I got to meet CaJohn and his wife Sue at the CaJohn’s booth, where I picked up a bottle of CaJohn’s ZestFest Texas hot sauce as a memento. I also got to meet Smokin’ Ed Currie at PuckerButt Pepper Company’s booth, where I tried Chocolate Plague Limited Edition, which contains Chocolate Butlah. This nearly maxed out my heat tolerance, starting out flavorful and manageable before quickly developing into a relentless escalation of heat that made my eyes water! Lime juice to the rescue! Ed also let me taste HP63T, which was 3 million SHU but didn’t feel as hot as Chocolate Plague to me. If you’re a serious chilihead, try Chocolate Plague if you can get your hands on it, holy cow!
I also met Bret from Elijah’s Xtreme Ghost Pepper Sauce in North Carolina, and their sauce had a nice balance of bite and flavor. I got to try Spicy Brown Sugar Pineapple Jerky by Katie’s Snack Foods, which was absolutely delicious, as well as the fruity and spicy blends of Bravado Spice’s hot sauces (the Pineapple & Habanero was my favorite). At La Familia Salsa Company’s booth, I tried most of the salsas, with my favorite being the Salsa Roja Caliente. At the banquet, we sat with the folks from Mike’s Mojo Seasoning, who are actually located right down the road from us in Fort Worth. I also met Amy from iBurn down in Houston, so if you’re in the Houston area, you should stop in and say hi to them (and try the Scary Cherries). And although the Spice Boys didn’t have a booth, I did get to meet up with them right before the awards banquet, and he gave me a bunch of goodies that I’m excited to try!
I think the best part for me though was working our booth and meeting some of our customers face-to-face. It was also fun to talk about the difference sauces and figure out what peoples’ taste preferences were when they were deciding what to sample at our booth. Because we don’t have a retail store, I don’t get much face-to-face contact with our customers, so it was great just to get out and socialize with some other spicy-food lovers. Finally, it’s been a while since we added any new brands to our lineup, so we’re hoping to add several new ones throughout 2015. We’ll let you know as soon as each new product becomes available via our monthly newsletter and social media pages, so hopefully you’ve already connected with us on Facebook and Twitter!