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Hot ticket: Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show a contender for USA Today festival award

The National Fiery Foods Show has been nominated as Best Specialty Food Festival in this year’s USA Today poll, and rightly so.

The festival features more than 1,000 hot sauces, rubs, marinades, seasonings and more, including the world’s hottest pepper, the Carolina Reaper. Fans of the event can cast their votes for the USA Today poll through 10 a.m. March 12.

“I guess all the advertising you do for a show like that pays off in the end,” said Dave DeWitt, National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show founder. “After 31 years, I guess we’re getting noticed. So they just sent us an email saying we were one of the 20 nominated, and they’re going to cut that down to the top 10 finishers. I figure if we finish in the top five that will be pretty good.”

The festival returns to Sandia Resort & Casino on March 1-3. It will feature about 200 vendors selling more than 1,000 products. Attendees get to sample their offerings. There also will be a craft beer tasting presented by Premiere Distributing Co.

“What people really come to the show for is the product,” DeWitt said. “In other words, it’s the steak. It’s the basic thing that people want to try is the products. And they have an opportunity to try products that local stores don’t sell. It’s interesting that there’s no glitter or anything like that in this; it’s just the basic, ‘I like this thing; I want to buy it.’ So they do. I would say that the tastings are a big attraction for it.”

A majority of the Scovie Award winners will be part of the event. Scovie Award entries are rated according to eye appeal, aroma, flavor and heat scale. This year’s grand prize is Rose City PepperHeads for its Raspberry Habanero jelly and Little Bird Kitchen for its Fire Syrup Product Packaging.

There are several Scovie Award winners from New Mexico. They are Luigi’s of Albuquerque, McGinn’s PistachioLand of Alamogordo, Paulita’s New Mexico of Rio Rancho, Poppa Pokey’s Barbecue Sauce of Roswell and The Bossy Gourmet of Las Cruces. Paulita’s, Poppa Pokey’s and The Bossy Gourmet are participating in this year’s show. Paulita’s received several Scovie Awards for its green chile sauce, Chitropicus, green chile marinade, Macho Marinara, green chile seasoning and green chile cocktail sauce. Poppa Pokey’s was honored for its Black Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce and The Bossy Gourmet for its green chile salsa-hot and jalapeƱo salsa.

There will be cooking demonstrations by DISC-IT, and 505 Food Fights will have local chefs go head to head for charity.

The money raised will go towards The Kitchen Kids Inc. which is run by chef Mike White, who was the (New Mexico Restaurant Association) Chef of the Year last year., DeWitt said.

The Kitchen Kids Inc. is a nonprofit that offers an all-abilities cooking course for children ages 5 and older. They learn side-by-side with culinary professionals in New Mexico. White invites professional cooks and chefs to work with the students. Each class is about 100 minutes and is part of a four- to six-week course set. White covers all costs and offers the classes free of charge to students, according to a National Fiery Foods news release.

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