Fiery Foods Show ’08 Sunday
Sorry for the long delay between the Saturday and Sunday posts. I have worked every day, and most nights as well since we’ve been back.
Well since this is the continuation from the last post, if you read it you would know the weather on Saturday was incredible, 70 degrees. When I opened the blinds on Saturday I about fell over cause the sun was so intense. On Sunday the weather changed, it was overcast and much cooler.
After breakfast we planned out our day. I had brought two cases of product with us to try to work some trades. About 3/4 of that still remained. I was on a mission, there was no way I was bringing back any of the sauce I brought. I already knew that I needed to get ahold of Cowboy George, ’cause he had an early flight and would be leaving the show early.
Once again, I couldn’t wait for the wife to get ready. There were thousands of sauces waiting to be eaten downstairs. That definitely trumps make-up, ironing and blow drying! Everyone else was just lucky I had enough patience to shower and brush my teeth! The only other show I had ever been to, we were exhibitors, this was a whole new level of chilehead nirvana! I loaded up the pack with my own product in hopes someone would agree to exchange my wares for their tasty sauces.
The first booth I stopped by was Danny Cash once again, not just ’cause they are cool guys, or we are friends, but also ’cause they are right out front before you go into the main auditorium. I asked if they had seen Cowboy George this morning. The boys at DC didn’t know who I was talking about. Nate Dog, who was trying some of the tasty goodness at the DC booth gave them a fair and accurate description, still no help. Next stop was Gage Salsa. These guys had taken us up on the offer of exchange the day before and I still owed them a Honey-Chipotle. One jar lighter! Two of the tastiest salsas at the show belonged to them and their neighboor Rancho Bravo. Next stop, Bermuda Jam Factory. If you like pepper jellies or pepper jams, this is the place for you! My fave was the Hurricane Force, I think it was their second hottest, but it was the one that tasted best to me. Unfortunately their U.S. co-packer couldn’t get product ready for them until May 1st so they were just showcasing what they had, and had no product for sale. To ship product from Bermuda would have cost a fortune. Shortly after visiting with the guys at Bermuda Jam Factory I ran into Cowboy George. Since he is opening a new hot shop I unloaded one of everything we have on him. Back pack empty, mission accomplished, back to the room to re-load.
The wife was finally ready. I loaded up my pack and we went back down to the show. This time the first stop was Big Dawg, another of the tastiest salsas in at the show. I dropped them one of everything. All I wanted in exchange was the CPR trio and some Burn Ur Face Off, but Darrell was having none of that and hooked us up with a few other goodies, Flat Lime Salsa and their Salvage Cajun Seasoning. Somewhere shortly after we met Lars and his mom at Csigi. Lars had taken the time to prepare some delicious samples including queso and honey habanero BBQ beef, MM MM good. We needed gifts for a couple people who were taking care of the boys while we were out of town, and Lars’ products were perfect for that. We started to tell Lars who we were, and he reminded me that he had done a review of our Honey-Chipotle. Nuff said, products exchanged.
After we unloaded the pack on this round we had only two bottles of our sauce left. The pile of sauces we had accumulated (purchased, bartered, gifted) was huge! We began to worry, how would we get all of this stuff home? Would it make it home safely? Well lets just see. We did bring a lot of bubble wrap.
We ran into ChileheadEd again , and he finally had his Redrum sauces with him, well actually they were behind the booth at Mild to Wild Herb and Pepper co., I tried them all. The one I fell in love with was the Golden BBQ.
It was somewhere around 3 o’clock and this incredible show was winding down. I still had alot of things I wanted to taste. When we got back to the show, it didn’t take long before we ran into another friend we had made at ZestFest, who other than June DeRousse from Chile Pepper Magazine. The funny thing was we both made eye contact, then did the double take. June is another one of those friendly Texans. I guess that Fort Worth area has an affect on people. We knew from previous emails that she would be in attendance but like so many of the other friends that we knew were going to be there, we had neglected to get her number. We chatted and laughed for probably an hour. We decided to go get something to eat. On the way June stopped off to buy Dave DeWitt’s newest book and have him sign it for her. We ran into Buddah, Steve, and Ed on the way and they decided to join us for lunch. We went to the roof top bar and found out that unfortunately they weren’t serving food for another hour. June and Tina ended up catching a cab to go get something to eat. Buddah, Steve, Ed and myself ended up at the sports bar where service was ridiculously slow and I had to go ask the bartender for our bill which arrived about 10 minutes after I asked for it.
By the Time we settled the bill it was 5:30 and the show ended at 6:00. Holy crap, it was time to do some last minute shopping, but first thing first, I needed to stop by The Bermuda Jam Factory. They had been talking about some fabulous rum cocktails. These guys weren’t lying, rum and ginger beer. Drink in hand I rushed to the Red Eye booth where I needed to get some of their Easy Goin’ Mild Salsa. My wife was shocked to hear that I liked their mild the best out of all their products, salsas and hot sauces. She made me promise to get it for her before she went to lunch.
Next stop was to be Dakota Mustard. Buddah, among others, raved about this stuff! Alas, it was not to be! The booth was empty, a sign on the table said sold out again. The cruelest cut was the fact that they had pulled the sample bottles to the back of the booth. I considered stepping into the booth to sneak a sample, nah, bad idea.
Okay, what was left to get ? I still hadn’t stopped by Sweet Sunshine. I saw them, I know and love everything they make, and I had intended on picking up some product. They had come into the sports bar when we were eating and everyone recognized them, there’s Kelli and Ed from Sweet Sunshine!
I wanted to see what the CaJohn crew was doing for dinner so I stopped by there before my final stop. I had offered to help break down, so I needed to make sure they still needed help. Yep, and Gardunos for dinner, we could all cram into the van! All set.
I guess I had tunnel vision for two days. Some how I had walked past All Spice Cafe’s booth several times and never seen it!?! I had a bottle of their product in my cabinet for recipe development, but had not yet tried it. I talked with the owner J.D. for the duration of the event. Terrific products, great label! If you replace the peppers on the label with facial hair, that’s J.D.
I think everyones booths came down in record time, and soon it seemed like the Jam Factory guys had hooked up half of the remaining vendors with the Rum cocktail. The wife June and Danny were all sitting out front where the DC booth had formerly been. We talked and laughed for a bit. We agreed to meet on the roof for after dinner drinks.
After the final sauce drop we met with our dinner group. MSK had decided not to join us (I think he had alot of sauce to pack still), and June also had other plans. ChileheadEd also said his goodbyes in the lobby, hugs were in order. It looked as if our dinner would be a party of 14. We fit 10 into CaJohns van (short bus). John, Sue, Chili, myself, Tina, Cowboy George (who had spent a frustrating day at the airport due to snow shutting down the Denver airport), Chile Willy, Nate Dog, Buddah and Steve. Darrell and Candy, and Chuck Evans and his friend joined us as well, but in seperate cars.
We arrived at the restaurant 10 minutes before closing on a Sunday a party of 14 without reservations. We all stood in the lobby expecting to be turned away. Soon the hostess led us to our table, they had decided to accomodate us. The food was good, the atmosphere was perfect (south west decor, ristras and memorabilia, mostly chile related), the company was world class.
On the ride back to the resort snow flakes were falling. Snow?, it was 70 yesterday. Yes, snow indeed, it would prove to delay many flights in the day to come.
We gathered in the rooftop bar to laugh and drink until they threw us out. Unceremoniuosly at midnight one of the resort security began to scream “GET OUT!”. Seriously, this guy was an ass. Apparently he had done the same thing the night before. Much of the group was heading down stairs to continue conversations and hopefully continue drinking. We however had mucho hot sauce to pack up. We said our goodbyes, more hugs were in order. After about an hour of packing, everything was ready for our morning flight.
I have figured out a few things during this trip and would like to share them with everyone. First off pre-register.you get to by-pass all the lines and get in before the masses, it’s like having a backstage pass. If you are not pre-registered make sure and get stamped for re-entry if you need to leave the show. A back pack is nice to have so you can haul all of your loot, it also keeps your hands free for samples and beverages. Bring a camera, you never know what you’ll see. If you’ve never been to a show before ask others for suggestions on what to try. Take notes or photos to remind yourself what you liked. There are so many things to try you probably wont get through them all. Usually if I stop at a booth to try something, I try everything they have. Bring bubble wrap, lots of it! I really like to chat with the manufacturers as well whenever possible. During the show it is not an easy thing to do but usually after hours they gather for cold beverages. If you are going to sample superhots or extracts they may skew your opinion of other product, I usually try these pain producing product before I am ready to take a break. Keep in mind fire in, fire out.
Some of my favorite exhibits at the show:
- Danny Cash: Danny has some very tasty sauces, Bloody Mary mixes, collectables, and a fresh perspective on hot sauce, you could even have a label made with your pic on it right there at the show. Always the innovator, you are sure to see something new from Danny at every show. Not to be forgotten, you will also see the current HSB wing-off champion, Lee AKA my arch nemesis here along with Pepperman, who by the way, is a babe magnet.
- Mild to Wild Pepper and Herb Co.: Jim Campbell is probably the smartest chilehead you will ever meet. He is a firefighter, a farmer, a hot sauce manufacturer, a Guiness World Record holder, A humanitariun (Check out stepupforcharity.com), and an all around nice guy.
- Blair’s: This is where you will find some of the most sought after items at the show. Blair is a pioneer in the gourmet hot sauce industry. His collectables are highly prized and always sell out. It would be nice to meet him in person though.
- Big Dawg: Salsa, hot sauces, spice rubs, and dip mixes. You may find Candy running the booth. If you look closely you will notice the pictures on the CPR (Candy’s Private Reserve) sauces are Darrell’s rendition of his lovely wife. With so many great things to try you will definitely end up buying some of their tasty products.
- Tony Legner: Besides his award winning Cat-5 food polish, Tony has come up with a few new items. A steak sauce which was delicious and some spicy pickled beans and carrots for Bloody Marys or snacking.
- Intensity Academy: A fresh idea in the biz. Innovative and delicious carrot based sauces. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for theses guys. The media loves them as well.
- Bodines: Did someone say MOJO? Their award winning sauces come in the hip pocket, whiskey style bottle. When I tasted these sauces recipes and marinating came to mind.
- Defcon; They put on quite the spectacle and will gladly hurt you if you let them. If you are not into extreme heat that’s okay they have some not so hot sauces as well, but no matter what you want to hang out by their booth for a little while. If you aren’t the one looking for extreme heat, someone will arrive shortly. Look for the testosterone filled muscle head. You know the guy, “nothing is too hot, give me the hottest thing you have”. I love seeing people in chile pain, and this is the perfect venue for that!
- Csigi: Lars not only makes award winning gourmet sauces, but also prepares some extremely tasty samples that showcase his culinary talent.
- CaJohn: If you don’t know who CaJohn is then you don’t know hot sauce, or salsa, or superhots, or chili fixin’s, or hot clothing, or dry rubs, or collectibles… Nuff said? One stop shopping.
My biggest regret about the whole show, was not making it by the Sweet Sunshine booth to chat and eat up some of their samples. These guys bring hot and sweet to a new level.