Buddah’s Trip to Columbus for Fiery Food Festival (Day 1 & 2)

by Buddah on February 21, 2011 · 0 comments

in General Information



Buddah from www.ILoveItSpicy.com has sent us details of this trip to the Columbus for Fiery Food Festival, his site is one we read so we think you will enjoy his write up on the event and personalities involved.

Day 1- CaJohn’s Open House

Hey it’s Buddah from www.ILoveItSpicy.com reporting from Columbus, Ohio the night before their annual Fiery Food Festival at the North Market. I made it to Ohio in just 6 hours travel time. The anticipation of the event is high because there are so many things packed into the 2 days. The event is now being orchestrated by CaJohn Hard, who gives us an Open House at his new facility. Free food, product sampling and if desired a guided tour through the hot facility.

I am accompanied by my friend Eric and his Dad who is attending his first event. We start off at Cajun Island Restaurant for lunch. Owned by Nick Ney who is the creator of the Cajun Island line of award winning products. He is popular at shows for making blackened pork and chicken and serving it with his sauces. The restaurant is new and I was curious to see how Nick was doing. While the location at a small food court in a flea market type of mall he told us that he is doing pretty good so far after 6 months plus. The food was fantastic highlighted by blackened chicken with bowtie pasta in an awesome cream sauce. He also brought us a blackened ribeye, Buffalo wings and pizza. The only thing I thought was average was the pizza, but I am a picky New Yorker who expects his pizza to be perfect.

After we thanked Nick and said our goodbyes we headed to CaJohn’s Fiery Foods for their Open House. Of course there was food, but we held out for dinner before we sampled some of their spicy offerings. Since I had seen their new facility the year before, I just walked around greeting all my friends and saying hello to new ones. Including Rick McMillen, the new owner of Chile Pepper Magazine. He got a full dose of my blabbering, but despite my endless chatter we had some rather interesting conversations. It seems the magazine is in for a resurgence.

These gatherings are the heart and soul reason for me why I got involved in the spicy world. There are so many good people and you feel the warmth as soon as you enter the room. Centered around John CaJohn Hard who makes you feel like you are family even if you meet him for the first time. When you eventually leave and head back home you feel like a part of you is being left behind. That sense of loss stays with you until the next event.

I filmed a little tour of the facility once it was starting to empty a bit, which I will share with you when I am back home. I am excited by the show tomorrow which I am sponsoring 3 things. The Spicy Cherry Challenge which is something I created just for the vendors. I reached out to all the companies attending the show a couple of months ago. I let them know that I will be giving a special award to the company that makes the best spicy cherry product just for the show. The feedback was excellent so I am anxious to taste their inspirations.

I am also sponsoring the Amateur hot sauce contest as well as the 1st Annual Heartbreaking Dawns’ Scorn Bread Challenge, which is a very spicy corn bread eating contest. We did the Ghost Brownie Brawl Buster last August at a show and it went over quite well. Both of these contests are set for Sunday. Saturday I am entering my version of guacamole, called Buddahmole and my Douglah Howser, M.D. salsa in the respective Amateur contests.

At the show over the next 2 days there are both amateur and professional chili cookoffs, a jalapeno eating contest, CaJohn’s. Wing Eating contest is a huge event too. Plus the last event Sunday is the spicy ice cream eating contest by Crazy Uncle Jester who has some awesome award winning products that I highly recommend trying. There is also a Fiery Asian Dinner planned Saturday evening after the show at a local Chinese restaurant, and a Chileheads Brunch to kick off the show Sunday.

Folks, it is going to be fun! Videos will be coming soon. Come swing by www.ILoveItSpicy.com and see our new spicy cooking contest, “Feast Your Eyes on This”. Sunday evening at 6pm est we will announce the Round 1 results and the new challenge for Round 2. Until next time, Buddah out!

Day 2- Fiery Food Show

For those that never have been to the North Market in Columbus, it is a 90% food market with all kinds of ethnic cuisine to take out or sit in their dining area upstairs. It is a place where people go to for lunch and dinner, yet still can shop for something to make at home. CaJohn’s Fiery Food has a small space where people can come sample and buy any of their products. He has bbq sauce, salsa, marinades, wing sauces, mustards and of course hot sauces of all levels.

Admit it or not, this Fiery Food Show would not be, if it wasn’t for the presence of CaJohn. After a few years of some tweaking, CaJohn has taken the reins, and stretched it to a 2 day event. One needs a schedule to walk around with in order to know when everything is taking place. Saturday they kicked the event off at 10am with the amateur guacamole contest, followed by a chef chili cookoff at 11am, then proceeded by the 12:30pm amateur chili cookoff. At 2pm, the Heartbreaking Dawns(HBD) Scorn Bread Challenge debuted with rousing success as Steve Smallwood had no problems eating the bread over 3 rounds of heat enhancements including a bhut jolokia butter called, “Buddah Bhutta” as a tribute from Johnny from our discussions over the phone. The last round Johnny had a fruity bhut preserve which I can attest to was very hot. We have video of the whole event to be shown sometime in the next week.

At 3-ish we had the jalapeno contest where a young lady won. I am sorry I missed that as I was relieving Wendy, the Spice Goddess from her post at the front. She was in charge of selling show hot sauce for $5 and t-shirts which were $16 which also came with a subscription to Chile Pepper Magazine. Thanks to Rick McMillan, the new owner of the magazine who was in attendance for the generous offer. After speaking to him at length on Friday, the new look of the magazine with be more personable taking a look at the people that make up the hot sauce industry and giving a voice to small companies looking for their niche. Hopefully he will be able to deliver and more because the magazine had become stale over the years.

As the show continued people grabbed bites downstairs, took side trips to the many microbreweries surrounding the North Market, of which there are many. A lot of that has to do with the presence of the Ohio State collegient element in town. One highlight beyond the show itself was some sharing that seems to always goes on between the chileheads. Our friend Hudd brought some homemade peanut and nougat bar much like a Payday candy bar. Firehead Thomas brought the best oatmeal cookie that I have ever had which were also laced with the super hot yellow 7 pot chile. They were plenty hot, but even better tastewise. I shared some of the salsa I jarred prior to the event with some douglah 7 pot. It was a slow heat, but I got good feedback sharing with some of my chilehead friends. I am entering a non-cooked batch into the salsa contest Sunday at 1:30pm.

Overall the 1st day of the event brought in staggering numbers, and one vendor who was at the Zestfest show said there were more people here than in the big Texas Show. Such a small venue as this was, it says a lot. Downstairs in the market place, there was participation from some of the vendors with some spicy entries, even the bakery, tea-smoothie, and ice cream shop get involved. It was bumper to bumper people walking around and it was very hard to get where you want to go if you really want to get there. Best thing to do is have patience and do not wait to use the bathroom.

The sponsored ILIS Spicy Cherry Challenge had some pretty good entries, and the chilehead votes, (which were broken down to top 3 for each ballot), had 9 different products garner votes,. The voting was really close and came down to 5 products, 2 tied for 2nd, and 2 more 2 tied for 4th only 2 points behind them. The winner will be announced prior to the Amatuer Hot Sauce event at 12:30pm Sunday.

Once the event was over for the day, the next big thing was the gathering for the Fiery Asian Dinner. We had a huge crowd, I am guessing of about 40 people. The food was so good, but incredibly spicy. The meals were so hot, milk was brought out to one of the tables for relief. Even CaJohn said it was incredibly spicy for him, and that says a lot. The chefs at the China Dynasty Restaurant deserve huge props for bringing it chilehead style in ways we will soon not forget. Jim Duffy of http://www.superhotchiles.com also deserves to be recognized for supplying CaJohn the chiles for the special dinner. The soy sauce especially was painful with unknown chiles floating in the salty liquid. Despite the pain, people kept going back for more. Good times.

Well, it is now Sunday morning, and I am anxiously awaiting Day 2, which kicks off with a chilehead brunch at $12/person. They have several people making meals for us, and it will be quite special. Until later, have a great day all.

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