Keeping Austin Hot! 26th Annual Hot Sauce Festival

This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. It’s my 3rd time attending since I moved here from Chicago. And I look forward to going every single year. Drawing in hundreds of restaurant chefs, commercial bottlers, and home-style cooks to compete for hot sauce victory. The hot sauce festival brought together local residents and visitors alike, who are local and hot sauce product aficionados. There was even a panel of some serious judging going for the Top 10 sauce categories. The panel included top chefs, local celebs and food writers like Anastacia Uriegas, writer for Thrillist and Time Out, Tameca Jones, R&B singer and Brandon Watson, food editor for the Austin Chronicle.

In the past, I’ve gone solo to these events. I figured most of my friends didn’t like hot sauce as much as I do and would’ve thought I was loco for even mentioning going to a festival in 100+ heat that is summer in south Texas (much less being for a hot sauce event).

However, over the years I’ve made some great friends that have allowed me to revel in my own way of keeping Austin Weird. Thus by allowing me and perhaps, maybe even encouraging my chile addiction. They even came out to show their support this year. Before I get all sentimental… first, let me explain the factual reasons why I love–not just hot sauce, but spicy food and chiles so much:

1) It tastes great with everything. Pizza, pasta, soup, eggs, beer, popcorn, salads, ice cream, lollipops–Everything.

2) I am Mexican. Back in my Pamper days, we grew up eating chili’s before we learned how to walk. But regardless if you’re Mexican or not, you know tacos and tamales just don’t taste as good without that salsa roja o verde.

3) Breathing better. It clears up stuffiness and/or sinus issues. Especially, during cold season 

4) Health reasons; medical studies have proven that a steady diet of hot peppers of salsa can aid digestion, fight heart disease, boost metabolism, and lower cholesterol.

5) Endorphins. I’ve learned that eating spicy food tricks the body into releasing endorphins to relieve pain. Kind of what we experience during exercise, the so-called “runner’s high” endorphins, that make you feel good. This may explain why I competed in the Fort Worth, TX Jalapeño Half Marathon eating contest, last month in July—after running 13 miles (half marathon). Crazy? Maybe. But I got double the endorphins! First from the race and then after eating five jalapeños. I ended up winning the contest too, so maybe it counted as triple endorphins?! You can check out the jalapeño video here

This year, I convinced several of my good friends to go, including my boyfriend, Ben (pictured in the center).

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Ben even shared my beloved event with our Circle Brewing crew.

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Mickey V's in the House
Mickey V’s in the House

My uncle, who is visiting from Mexico City this week, even made a guest appearance too!

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I am so happy that my friends and family were all able to share in this experience. Not only did they brave the rain, but the heat on their taste buds too!

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Some of our favorites this year:

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Hot Sauce: Yellowbird Blue Agave Sriracha
The heat balanced out nicely with the agave finish to calm down the heat.

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Hot Sauce: Winston’s Kitchen Coming in HOT!
Jamaican Hot sauce with spicy habanero and bell peppers. Very hot and savory with a touch of tamarind sauce, reminiscent of chutney.

2016 winners can be found here.

The event has helped raise more than 50,000 meals for the Central Texas Food Bank. The money goes to help hungry families in need all over Central Texas.

Do you have a favorite hot saue? Would love to hear your suggestions. Feel free to comment below. Stay HOT, mis amigos.