When I first heard there was a judging spot at the UK Chilli Cook-off in Brixton I jumped at the chance! I had never been to a chilli cook-off and had never been a judge so all it was all new to me. I know the cook offs are a big deal in America so was really pleased to see them here in the UK.
Whenever I think of a chilli-cook off I always think back to that Simpsons episode where Homer attends the Springfield chilli cook-off and Chief Wiggum has prepared a chilli which contains the merciless peppers of Quetzlzacatenango grown deep in the jungle primeval by the inmates of a Guatemalan insane asylum. Homer not to be beaten covers his mouth in wax and goes back for more and ends up hallucinating. I think most that Chilliheads who watch this episode find they can relate to what he experiences!
It was a lovely, hot sunny day in London and I met up with Darth Naga early as we wanted to go see the Ribman and try his famous ribs before they sold out! We arrived at Brick Lane and the crowded streets and endless street food stalls made him hard to find at first but we soon spotted his stall and went over not only excited about trying the food but to also meet the Ribman himself.
The food was better than I could have imagined, a huge soft white crusty roll filled to the brim with delicate, succulent rib meat then topped off with a good helping of the Ribman’s special Holy Fuck sauce.
It was delicious and clear to see why the stall had a constant queue of people all wanting to get their hands on this fantastic roll! I think the Ribman is selling himself short by saying they are the best ribs in London, they are the best I have tried and I would say they are the best in the UK!
Next we were off to the main event, Brixton. The venue couldn’t have been more perfect it was held at the Grand Union bar Brixton which has one of the largest beer gardens in London. Once there we were immersed in the fabulous, organised chaos which consisted of 13 teams hard at work preparing their chillis for us to judge and the public to sample. I went to the treehouse to meet my fellow judges and sit down, taking in the incredible atmosphere and watching the teams hard at work.
We sampled a range of different chillis, no two were alike and all had their quirks. Some used different spices; different cuts of meat, one team had even steered away from the usual beef to make a chicken chilli. There was one clear winner which we all scored highly and that was Billy Franks, the sauce was so thick and flavoursome with a nice afterburn, the meat was cooked to perfection and if his team ever decide to go into mass production I will be stocking up on it!
It was a really great day and I do feel a good day was had by all. The Chilli Cook Off association raised £ for the Clic Sargent charity by selling spoons to the public so everyone had the opportunity to sample these delicious chilli’s and the atmosphere was electric.
Everyone’s passion and enthusiasm was contagious and after the long day, I left tired yet ecstatic that I had been privileged enough to judge at such a great event. If there is a chilli cook-off near you I recommend you head over and enjoy the fun, you will not be disappointed.