Spicy Mixology Contest, Fire-Eating Frenzy and Hot Sauce Hall of Fame at the 2015 NYC Hot Sauce Expo

Calling all hot sauce lovers: Brooklyn is the place to get your capsaicin fix this weekend!

On Saturday, April 2Hot sauce poster5 and Sunday, April 26, hot sauce aficionados will flock to the Brooklyn Expo Center for the Third Annual New York City Hot Sauce Expo. NYC Hot Sauce Expo is the center of the universe for anyone who worships the magical chile pepper. Along with tastings, spicy eating contests, scorched taste buds, music and other activities, the Expo features more than 45 artisanal hot sauces and their colorful producers, each showing off their own take on this tempting and sometimes demonic elixir. With more than 300 submissions from purveyors around the globe, including England, New Zealand, France, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and Montego Bay, the NYC Hot Sauce Expo cherry-picked 47 hot sauce purveyors, including an impressive selection of locally-produced New York City area hot sauces:

A&B American Style (NYC)
Baron’s International Kitchen (Hudson Valley)
Blair’s (Highland, NJ)
Born to Hula (Highland, NJ)
Defcon Sauces, Milburn, NJ)  (2014 Screaming MiMi award winner)
Dragon’s Blood Elixir, (Woodstock, CT)
Gemini Crow Sauce Revival (Montague, NJ)
High River Sauces (Long Island, NY)
Horseshoe (Rhinebeck, NY)
Jersey Barnfire (Sparta, NJ)
Loud Foods Orange Sunshine (Westchester, NY)
Queen Majesty Hot Sauce (Brooklyn, NY)
Southern Bells (NYC)
Tom’s Roid-Ripping Hot Sauce (Stratford, CT)
World Famous Hot Sauce (NYC)

Other Local Hot and Spicy Products
Murph’s Bloody Mary Mix (Long Island, NY)
Horseradish by Holy Schmitt’s (Long Island, NY)
Spice mixes by Tango Spice Company (Long Island, NY)

These and other hot sauces will be available for tasting and purchase at the Expo. Hot Sauce Expo is co-produced by Steve Seabury and his multi-award-winning NYC-based hot sauce company called High River Sauces, and Food Karma Projects, a creative producer of food and media events throughout the New York area. Created by Jimmy Carbone — a NYC-based restaurateur and dedicated social entrepreneur — Food Karma Projects is dedicated to community building by creating unique events that showcase the best local food, chefs, beer and wine, and create a social impact that benefits worthy non-profit groups.

High River Sauces
Photo courtesy of High River Sauces

Fun with Hot Sauce
In addition to learning more about and tasting different hot sauces, the Expo features several other hot-sauce inspired events, including spicy food eating contests, like spicy pizza or tacos. Leading up to the NYC Hot Sauce Expo were preliminary rounds of Saturday and Sunday’s hot sauce-related competitions. For example, Expo organizers convened a panel of celebrity judges, media personalities and hot sauce lovers to judge the Expo’s coveted Screaming MiMi awards. In the ultimate taste test of endurance, NYC Foodscape was honored to be on the panel with about 25 other judges as we tasted almost 200 blind hot sauce samples in the following categories:

Louisiana Style
Fruit Based
Fruit Based Hot
All Natural
XXX Hot Sauce (Non Extract)
Pepper Blend
Best Hot Sauce Label Artwork
Chicken Wing
Spicy BBQ
Spicy Salsa

Awards in each of these 13 categories, plus a brand new category, Best Hot Sauce of 2014, will be announced on Saturday, April 25 at the Hot Sauce Expo for three winning contestants — gold, silver and bronze. First place winners in each category get their winning sauces picked up by Peppers, one of the largest hot sauce distributors in the country. For more about the hot sauce judging process, see, April 2, 2015 post, The Arc of a Hot Sauce Tasting: From Anticipation to Euphoria to Zen. 

Also on Saturday, the NYC Hot Sauce Expo & High River Sauces will present the official Hot Sauce Hall of Fame Foundation. The Hot Sauce Hall of Fame will induct 5 people in 2015 who have been very instrumental in the fiery foods industry.

Also leading up to the Expo, High River Sauces and Buffalo Wild Wings teamed up to host a fiery chicken wing eating competition, called “Buffalo Wild Wings B-Dub’s Blazin’ Challenge.” The preliminary rounds took place at five Buffalo Wild Wings locations. The top 2 winners of each round will advance to the NYC Hot Sauce Expo for the Championship on Saturday, April 25 at 5 p.m.

And for Bloody Mary lovers, NYC’s top bartenders competed in all five boroughs at the championship finals for Stoli Vodka’s “Bloody Mary Mix-Down.” Only the top three mixologists from each borough will compete at the championship on Sunday, April 26 at the Expo. Also on Sunday, the Guinness Book of Records will again judge the professional spicy eating contest, PuckerButt Pepper Company’s, 2015 Guinness Book of Records Smoking Ed’s Carolina Reaper Eating Contest. Who will beat last year’s World Record? (See below for photos from 2014).

For a full schedule of events, visit the Expo Web site.

Ticket Information
General Admission to the Hot Sauce Expo is only $10 (day of tickets are $12). $55 tickets for the Beer & BBQ Lunchbox include 5 craft beer tickets, a BBQ Sandwich Platter, and a bottle of High River Sauces (advance sale only via Eventbrite). VIP tickets ($100, available only via Eventbrite) include access to a private VIP lounge, unlimited sampling from liquor sponsors, craft beer, hard ciders, and specialty food vendors with full access to the Hot Sauce Expo, access to special events, and VIP Goody Bar that includes a bottle of High River Sauces and a free subscription to Chile Pepper Magazine.

Limited Beer and BBQ Lunchbox tickets remain for Saturday, though All-Access VIP are sold out. Sunday tickets are still available. Buy tickets here.

Photos from 2014 EXPO
Here are some photos from last year’s 2014 Expo at Penn Pavilion. NYC Foodscape stopped by just in time to catch two of the day’s biggest events: The Bloody Mary Mix Down and the Guinness Book of World Record winning Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper Eating Contest.

Mixologists practicing their Bloody Mary alchemy



The Judges from Stoli and Murph’s Bloody Mary Mix at the Table



The judges picked as the winner, the Bloody Mary concoction that Sean McCauliffe, bar manager for Daddy O’s BBQ and Sports Bar, in Staten Island created. In fact, Staten Island bartenders ranked high with the judges because second place went to another borough contender, Laura Gardner.


Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper Eating Contestants  

Brave (or foolhardy) hot pepper lovers tested their mettle by eating as many of the “world’s hottest peppers” as they could in one minute for a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Smokin Ed’s Carolina Reaper beat out former Guinness World Record-holder Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T.”  Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper delivers an average of 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units [SHU].  In comparison, jalapeno peppers only have a rating of 2,500-8,000 SHU.

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 Expo producer Steve Seabury of High River Sauces rallying the crowd


See you at the Expo!

NYC Foodscape LOVES Peppers and Hot SauceIMG_8503

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