Hot and Spicy Festival at Harbourfront Centre
by Samuel Wang (age 10) and Raymond Qiu (age 11)
GULP. I swallowed more water after tasting that super spicy sauce. However, I grinned and told the vendor, “I really like this spicy sauce. You prepared it well.” The Hot and Spicy Food Festival took place from August 19th to 21st at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. The festival explored international spicy cuisines, rounding up with a global taste of peppers. This year, the focus was from the Mississippi river down to the Gulf of Mexico.We sampled spicy foods from different countries around the world.
“The Hot and Spicy Food Festival is very old, this is the nineteenth edition of this festival, and the original concept if I remember right was it was exploring the flavors of the food, the hot and spicy flavors of the food around the world which something like a multicultural city like Toronto did not have,” said Alexandra Bordokas, one of the event organizers.
When we first walked into the festival grounds, we smelled a wonderful, and spicy aroma, that wafted from the festival booths. The festival grounds were teeming with people trying new, super spicy food from vendors. One visitor, Christa Papavasiliou said, “I heard the music and that got me interested. I jogged over to check it out, and here I am!”
As I was deciding what to try first, something caught our eyes. There was a sauce named Burners, that seemed to have most of the visitors gulping water after sampling. “Don’t try it!” Raymond said, who had sampled the sauce. I put it in my mouth and it was spicy. Probably too spicy. The warm weather only made it worse. In spite of how burning hot it was, it was delicious. Burners spicy dip was probably the spiciest I’ve tasted. It was slightly sweet, somewhat sour. But overpoweringly hot. I chucked down half a bottle of water almost immediately after eating. Fortunately, it had been cured by the next booth.
ChocoSol was possibly one of my favorite booths. It is rumored that chocolate can settle your spicy burns. But the company had put together a Mexican favorite – chili chocolate. It had a dark taste directly made from cocoa beans. Voice K was lucky to have an interview with one of the vendors, Emily Wat.
“Our chocolate is very unique, and is made locally in Toronto,” said Emily. “It’s a Mexican style chocolate. We do some additional flavors like chili chocolate.” Chili is a very commonly used ingredient for Mexican foods. Since the chocolate is also in Mexican style, it was fit to add in the chili along with it. Chili also has many health benefits. “It’s pretty intense,” she said. “I feel a little burn when I eat our chocolate.”
Delicious, thick, spicy, red, chili. Slowly cooked will bring the best of it. The additions to the taste include chick peas and beans. Unlike other booths which had their nachos, this one was cooked on the spot. 2 rather large pots held samples. It was mixed with various beans and beans. Though I’m an amateur chili consumer, I’d say that this had been the best I’ve tasted so far. We were very glad to have the chance to interview the vendor, Eugenio Salas.
“It’s a super family friendly festival. There’s music, entertainment, [and] great food. The thing I’d like to highlight the most is that me along [with] all the other food vendors here are Ontario local food producers.” The most popular item is the hot Mexican adobo it’s a sauce with easy cooking. You cook the sauce with some meat, some grain, or some protein and walk away. It’s very delicious.”
ChiliKids Junior Chef Competition
We went into the room in search of one of the organizers, Alexander Bordokas for an arranged interview. Instead, he registered us the Chilikids competition. The host was Chef Mick Elliott, who ranked as one of the top instructors in cooking. I was completely unprepared. But it seemed interesting enough to go for it. The goal was to cook the most delicious and the best-served chili in 25 minutes. At the ten minute mark, we would be granted a few secret ingredients to finish off the dish with something of our own. We were put into a group with two younger children, Jordan and Serena. We were given two different kinds of beans, tomatoes, many seasonings, jalapeno peppers, chipotle peppers, garlic, and onions. After adding all of the ingredients, we took turns cooking the chili.
We chose to take the secret ingredients: tortilla chips, cheese, and cucumber. After melting the cheese onto the chili, it was served it onto a plate. Then, the chili was surrounded by chips, and chipotle sauce was added onto each chip. Though the result was great, we didn’t make it into the top three. Congratulations to the winners! Two young children, Mishty and Olive, had taken the competition.
“We added chips, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, [and] avocado,” said Olive. They felt that some of the difficulties are having to look at what others are doing to find out what is going on. They had trouble knowing what the secret ingredients were. “I think the tomatoes and chips really helped.”
“Be aware of your surroundings and remember that you are in an environment where it can get very hot, and there’s a lot of dangerous equipment, and respect the rules of the kitchen,” said Chef Elliott. He told us that his mother gave me the inspiration to cook and he helped out a lot in the kitchen when he was young.
Chef Elliott also told us, “spicy food helps with the digestive system and the blood.” When we asked him how to make your tongue feel better after eating spicy food. He suggested drinking water, milk, or eating chocolate. “Also, giving it time would also help.”
“When you have a lot of spice, it can have a major effect on your taste bud,” said Chef Elliott, “so spice has to be done in small amount and as a chef, you have to learn the balance of spices.”
As the festival ended, my mouth was ready to blow up from the smoldering charcoals that lingered on my tongue. In spite of the flaming power charges of the food, I very much enjoyed the Southern US/Mexican spicy food—dishes that would take time to settle. This year has been one gathering spices from the Southern US. Let’s see where the fire will spread next.