Fiery Foods and BBQ Show

By Eileen Richardson

Held annually in Albuquerque, NM, an hour south of Santa Fe, the National Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show (March 3-5, 2017) is a destination for spicy food lovers across the US, and may now be considered the foremost copulation of spicy hot lovers and makers in the U. S.

Now in its 29th year, the Fiery Foods show was launched in 1988 by founder Dave DeWitt. DeWitt is also the brainchild behind several authoritative publications focused on chile, peppers, and the fiery foods market in general, as well as the Scovie Awards.

For a chile extract, hot sauce, or salsa, winning a Scovie Award is the culinary equivalent of winning a Grammy, and Scovie winners typically move on to see major commercial success.

When we went to the Fiery Foods show we saw all age groups, many men challenging their “heat tolerant” palates, women, and children. They were there to taste their favorite salsa, chile sauces, spices, chili hot candy, green and red chile goat cheeses, sweet hot sauces, and listen to the explanations of how this and that chili flavor is best.

We tasted first second and third place Scovie award winners at Santa Fe Olive Oil, Serna’s Salsa, and Lucky Dog Salsa. Some of the categories were so diverse there were many winners. You can check them out on their site:

The Scovie awards are given for many categories such as Smoky and Bold flavor, Prepared sauce, BBQ sauce, Hot and Spicy Beverages-Alcoholic and non-Alcoholic, seasonings and rubs, fruit based salsas, snacks and chips, and even for marketing and advertising.

Some of the entertaining logos illustrated, Devils, dogs, Skull and crossbones, cartoon lemons and limes, and fiery flames.

Company and product names were as wild and entertaining. Names such as Pucker Butt Pepper Company, Gator Hammock, Volcanic Peppers, Hellfire Hot sauce, Frog Bone Cajun Sauces, I Burn! Caribbean Heat, Sportsman Redneck Juice, and Texas Rib Rangers/ Crazy Granny B's

Interestingly enough the Fiery food and BBQ industry has grown faster than many of its counterparts The US hot sauce market, for instance, has grown by 150% since 2000, which is more than that of BBQ sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard—combined.

The National Fiery Foods show seems to be the start of spicy culinary trends around the globe. As spicy flavors become more mainstream, and in much more demand, an event like the National Fiery Foods Show has become a necessary part of a quickly growing industry.

The Origins of a Fiery Foods Show

DeWitt saw the growth of the spicy foods industry just by looking at the expansion in number of products on grocery shelves each year in the U.S. He eventually discovered that “fiery foods” was a fast-growing, multi-billion-dollar industry with no trade show.

DeWitt’s idea for the first Fiery Foods Show originated in 1987, while driving back from a NM Chile Conference.

New Mexico is most known for its Hatch green chile grown in Hatch NM. But Pueblo chiles, Rio Grande chiles, and Anaheim peppers are also grown here. “Driving back, I had a vision for the festival, based on a display I saw at the conference for Old El Paso Foods”.said DeWitt. The idea of displaying and representing spicy foods across an entire industry was too much to pass up. And so in 1988, The National Fiery Foods Show was in full effect. Even in its inaugural year, the exhibition touted 47 individual exhibitors.

Crowds at Fiery Foods Show in Albuquerque NM Now in 2017, probably had 180 to 200 exhibitors from all reaches of the globe from New Mexico to Australia. In the 3 days over 20,000 attendees showed up.

One one of the highlights is free ice cream, which is back this year thanks to a partnership with Van Rixel Bros. While attendees can choose from a number of beverages and beer gardens, nothing like ice cream squelches the heat.

 A Tip for the Chile Novice:

“Don’t Drink the Water!” – Capsaicin, the “hot” ingredient in a pepper, is contained in a natural oil, which like an oil fire, will only be spread further by water. The #1 way to sooth a burning mouth, according to is drinking milk products. Hence the Ice cream remedy. That said, the second best option? Alcohol. Fiery Foods Show has you covered on both fronts.

Another “must-see” addition for 2017’s show is the introduction of live cooking competitions, hosted by 505FoodFights, which will span the course of the 3-day exhibition culminating in a final showdown, held Sunday, March 5th, the last day of the show.

The final day was rounded out with an appearance of Albuquerque’s “spiciest” radio personality, Erika Viking of KIOT Radio. The cute little red chile walking around gets some praise and was a draw for the kids.
Whether you are a full-on “Chile-Head”, occasional fan of spicy foods, or simply interested in what the newest culinary trends might be, 2017’s National Fiery Foods show offers a unique look into one of the world’s fastest growing culinary industries.

We love going every year and really enjoy the humor, passion and great tastes at the Fiery Foods and BBQ show in March in Albuquerque New Mexico. So if you are in the Santa Fe /Albuquerque are in March look it up and come on down!