2015 California Hot Sauce Expo
By Kay Schroeder
Long Beach,CA(Perfect Meal Today)7/20/15/–More than a few surprises were in store while attending the first ever 2015 California Hot Sauce Expo in Long Beach, California. Although a resident of Orange County since the ‘60’s, Rainbow Lagoon had not been on my radar. Rainbow Lagoon, with its wide open, grass-covered grounds, proved to be the ideal setting for this smoking hot event. The weather was sunny with a welcoming cool breeze; however, things were about to heat up.
The cost for general admission was a reasonable $10 for an advance ticket and $15 for the day of the event ticket. For the guests who wanted a little more in-depth experience, there was the Craft Brew Package for $50. This package included 6 drink tokens, a bottle of one of the High River Sauces, and a T-shirt. Checkout the graphics and colors on the T-shirts, they’re almost as hot as the killer heat sauces.
For those who were all-in for this expo, there was an Exclusive VIP Pass for a smooth $100. Evidently many felt it was well worth the extra cost to enjoy the reserved area which afforded the guests a cool place to sit and relax on funky, fun, plastic sofas, sip the complimentary cocktail tastings with food pairings, and sample some of the most exotic craft beers imaginable. Beers were flavored with untraditional flavorings/ingredients like Sriracha Sauce (a lot of Sriracha Sauce), Red Hots Cinnamon, and several more that I was not brave enough to try.
Great companion foods for the craft beers and cocktail tastings were served up by Lucille’s Barbecue Restaurant. Offerings included ribs, pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw, and out of this world southern biscuits. These biscuits were large, and true to southern style, came apart in light, fluffy horizontal layers.
A quick survey of the grounds indicated that there were about 50 booths. This estimate turned out to be pretty close, there were 45 companies, representing states from across the nation, who were brought together for this event by High River Sauces.
Part of the fun was talking with the owners/representatives manning the booths. It was clear that they all had a love for their products and exhibited great excitement as they shared their knowledge and expertise of peppers with guests who visited their booths. They seemed to be having as much fun as the guests.
With 45 companies represented, it would be difficult to list them all, however, here are just a few: Ghost Cream (San Clemente), Hella Hut, Big Red’s, Hot Licks (Long Beach, CA), Volcanic Peppers (Bellevue, WA), CaJohn’s Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, Lucky Dog, and Pucker Butt Pepper Company’s Smokin Ed’s Carolina Reaper (the hottest pepper in the world.
The Grand Satan of them all, the Carolina Reaper pepper measures an astounding average of 1,569,000 SHUs on the Scoville Heat Units scale while the Jalapeno pepper manages a mere .5% of that measure. By the way, Carolina Reaper peppers were offered for sale at $5.00 (per pepper). This is one hot, and expensive pepper!
2015 California Hot Sauce ExpoTop SCOVIE Hot Eating Award
The Chicken Wing Eating and Guacamole Making contests generated robust interest and enthusiasm from the crowds who were already in the mood to party due to the vibrant, rousing sounds of the band. People can get pretty excited about food – well, maybe the beer and Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire were contributing factors.
Although this was the first ever California Hot Sauce Expo, all bets are that it won’t be the last because it was just so down right much fun! Can’t wait to see what the 2016 CHSE brings, however you can be sure, it will be hot.
287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211