ZestFest 2012 Live Reporting from Ken Alexander

Ken Alexander reporting live from Zestfest 2012 in Irving, Texas.

As my wife and I entered the Irving, Texas convention center this morning, we were greeted by the large archway inviting us into Zestfest, one of the largest hot sauce and spicy food shows in the country. After being greeted by festival “go to” wonder woman Judy Fuhrhop, and being given a brief tour of the beautiful layout, we took off in search of friends, old and new, and some of the most unique, original, and spicy products I’ve tried in a while.

The first stop was a visit with Madison Chocolatiers West. Chef Ricky Sanders and Renee Rohrbach have created some incredible flavor and heat profiles nicely disguised as innocent looking chocolates. I reviewed their outstanding Sweet Burn Butter Toffee back in November, and they’ve added to the spicy product fold with “I Hab a Date”, a habanero spiked, chocolate covered, peanut butter stuffed date, and several other delightful spicy and non- spicy chocolate creations

Volcanic Peppers Booth

Volcanic Peppers Booth

Tim at Volcanic Peppers

Tim at Volcanic Peppers

Sharing the same booth was Volcanic Peppers, and Tim Bader strolled my taste buds and heat sensors through his collection of products. A first year Zest Fester, Tim introduced me to his brand new Lava Trinidad Scorpion BBQ sauce (I highly recommend it) and collection of peppery powders. I especially liked the fresh, citrusy flavor of the yellow bhut jolokia powder.

Flaming Joe Leicht

Flaming Joe Leicht

We visited with Flaming Joe and Red Hot Robin, festival veterans, and sampled Robin’s new Applewood Smoked Rum BBQ Sauce and Joe’s new hairdo!

El Gringo Loco

ElGringoLoco.net

Then it was on to Chef Kaz with El Gringo Loco, and his award winning line of sauces and salsas. Chef Kaz won a 2011 I Love it Spicy Lennie award and after sampling several of his products, I’m a new fan. He probably has one of the most flavorful, complex, and unique wing sauces I’ve ever tried.

Famous Execution Station

The Famous Execution Station at CaJohn's

Of course, no big show would be complete without the crew from CaJohn’s, with Vic and Wendy Clinco running the infamous Execution Station. The station challenges unsuspecting, budding Chileheads to try all seven of CaJohn’s hottest sauces, culminating in the new and improved Black Mamba, now made with six million Scoville extract. Ouch!

Vic Clinco on left ... author Ken Alexander on right

Vic Clinco on left ... author Ken Alexander on right

Michele Northrup of IntensityAcademy.com

Michele Northrup of IntensityAcademy.com

Not to be outdone, the Intensity Academy is sponsoring the Lolli-Lickathon on Saturday afternoon, where Vic Clinco will try to remain undefeated! More on that later, but Michelle Northrup with the Academy brought her A-game with a couple of new sauces that are sure to please. Check out the video that will be posted soon on ILoveitSpicy.com!

John Dilley and Ken Alexander

John Dilley and Ken Alexander

A brief photo op and visit with Defcon Sauce’s John Dilly and his futuristic booth, Mad Man Max-esque costume, and crazy hot sauces rounded out our first pass through the 100 plus vendor showroom floor. I’ll be sending Brian and Marilyn an awards recap later and sending Buddah some initial videos and pics to share as well on ILoveItSpicy.com. Check out the festival website at www.zestfest2012.com for a complete list of vendors and information. Many thanks to Greg and Judy, festival organizers, for their gracious Texas hospitality, and to Brian and Marilyn for allowing me to write you about all things hot and spicy! Stay tuned- more to come from Zestfest2012!

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Comments

  1. Ken Alexander says:

    Post awards update:
    Congratulations to Madison Chocolatiers West for winning second place with their Scorpion Stinger Caramel, Volcanic Peppers for winning first place with their Volcano Dust 2, El Gringo Loco for 1st and 2nd place wins for his Flame Grilled Veggie Natural Garden Salsa and Sweet Apple Harvest Natural Fruit Salsa, and Intensity Academy for their 1st place winning Chai Sweet Chili Asian Stir Fry Sauce. And CaJohn’s won more awards than I can count! And they won Overall Grand Prize (no specific category) for the show. Congrats to all the winners! For a complete list of Fiery Food Challenge winners, go to Scottrobertsweb.com where Scott has the entire list posted! Stay tuned as there’s more to come from Zestfest 2012! Scott and I will do a joint podcast Saturday afternoon, and I’ll post another update before the show is over!

  2. Thank you Ken for an outstanding job and thank you for the pics. ~enjoy!

  3. What a fun event. Reminds me of an Eggfest.

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