When fellow cookbook author Robb Walsh asked if I’d be interested in judging the 2012 Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, I think I had about a millisecond of hesitation before exclaiming “Hell yes!” and booking my airfare. It was kind of a no-brainer; I’d never been to Texas before, and, as you may have guessed by my first cookbook, I’m a sucker for Scovilles. And being the largest hot sauce festival in the world—with an estimated 350 competition entrants and 15,000+ attendees—it definitely seemed like my kinda scene.
Shortly after getting a screaming deal on a plane ticket, this innocent looking email came in from Robb and crew saying something to the effect of, “By the way, it was like 110°F here last year. NBD. Wear light clothes and a hat. Oh, and it’s 143% humidity. See you soon!”
110°F? Humid? What have I gotten myself into?! I’m a Los Angeles native… I don’t do humid. My mind spiraled out of control and I began to question my decision. What if there’s some crazy lunatic who wants nothing more than to punish people with her Ghost Chili hot sauce? Is my tongue ready for that? And am I prepared—physically and mentally—for the inevitable revenge the following morning? Could I handle this? What if… and so on. But eventually, I shut the hell up inside my own head and resolved to stick with it. I decided, once and for all, that no matter what happened, good or bad or otherwise, it would at the very least make a somewhat-entertaining blog post. (Hi!)