Chilli Event Reviews

Review and information about chilli related events in the UK

Chilli Fiesta 2015This year was the 20th anniversary West Dean Chilli Fiesta, I had my first stall at the 18th, and but for a very few have been to most of them since then, we have not had a stall for a few years. I think our thanks must go to Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain who co-founded the Chilli Fiesta and without whom we would not have such the thriving UK chilli market.

The event this year was again over 3 days, we visited on what was one very hot and busy day, the event has grown and now with more campers and a extended nights entertainment with the main stage being open till 9pm and then thins move to the Cabaret Tent till 11pm. The Sunday is a little shorter with the main stage closing at 7:30pm and the Cabaret tent finishing at 9pm. The produce stalls all close at 6pm expect for the food stall around the main stage area

Display Chillies at West Dean 2015There is lots to see during the day with live music on the main stage starting at noon, as well can lots of cookery demonstrations and gardening chat sessions, if you are unlucky enough to do to the glass houses you can still see some pages from my book, The Hot Book of Chillies, being used as part of the display.. it is getting a bit old now, but hopefully they will use some of the new books pages next year..

With nearly 180 stalls, not all selling chilli products this event is the biggest in the UK, you can see around 250 different varieties of chillies.

We had a great day out visiting all our old friends and seeing some new additions to the event including. Mushemi Fire, Thousand Hills, TTaste, East Coast Chilli Company and Barfoots Sorry if we have missed out any other new arrivals.

We cannot recommend this event more highly, make sure it is on your list for next year.

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Bath Chilli Festival 2014Last year saw the first ever Bath Chilli Festival held on campus at the University Of Bath. Without going into too much detail, the event quite simply fell flat on its face. Not so this year!

Organisers Pete and Rich pulled out all the stops in the run up to this year’s event and I’m pleased to say that it was a huge success. Setting off to go and set up I was only 5 miles out of Stroud, just getting onto the A46 heading south, when I saw a sign post advertising the festival which is some 30 miles away. A good omen I thought!

The University is easy to find and access for set up was hassle free and straight forward. The first thing I noticed was that the show layout this year was far more structured. No great expanses of ground for tumbleweed to roll through! Once it filled up with visitors (and it did) this show had the feel of a summer fete – except with hot sauce, chilli, beer, cider…and sunshine! Yes the weather was kind, which is always a huge advantage.

There was a good selection of vendors from hot sauce companies to curry sauce companies, spice vendors, drinks, chilli plants and seeds, spicy sausages – all the usual, but not so many stands that the product offerings were duplicated. Entertainment was laid on in the main tent with local bands and performers, talks on chilli science, a curry cook-off and later the chilli eating competition run by the Clifton Chilli Club. For full details visit the website: http://www.bathchillifestival.com/index.html

Like a lot of other companies selling there I’m sure, I was too busy to have a proper look around! The show was extremely well attended and what impressed me was the number of “chilli virgins” who came just to see what it was all about. These are the life blood of any show. I always get a buzz from the sheer enthusiasm (and wide-eyed terror when being introduced to the hottest of the hot) that newbies bring to these events. Lots of visitors praised the show without being prompted and many stayed and made a day of it. The queues for the food vendors suggested that they all did good business.

The day seemed to absolutely fly by and breaking down after the show was made all the more easy by the fact that most of us had almost sold out of stock! Luckily my wife was coming to the show so after the first hour I was able to call to tell her to bring more stock and even then I sold out of many product lines. Happy days!

Organising, running and promoting a successful show is far from easy and I think Rich, Pete and all the staff that helped make the show such a success should be congratulated. I certainly hope they do it again next year.

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It has been at least 2 years since I visited the Upton Cheyney Chilli Festival, and how well it has grown up.

Sea Spring SeedsIt was always a well organized event, the location was splendid but best described as intermate, now they have moved main stalls to the field behind the farm, which gives them much more space for watching the events on the stage. The old location has become the home for the food concessions and the cider bar.

The event has lost non of its charm with the expansion and there is lots to entertain the kids and adults alike, it is hard not to spend a fortune in the stalls, not all of which are chilli related, it was an eclectic mix.

I counted about 40 stalls and about 14 different food/drink vendors, the coffee from the Italian coffee stall was just about perfect (Needed a coffee, had to have two).

Master of Ceremonies for the event was Darth Naga, I pride myself in helping him become the man he is today (He has just got engaged, so please congratulate him when you see him).

If you have not been to this event it is one I would recommend. you can camp on site (booking needed), and they also have glamping, which is the only was you will get me in a tent again.

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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.   

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