Announcing OC Weekly's First-Ever Hot Sauce/Salsa Contest!

You'll remember that last year, I was invited to be a judge at the Austin Chronicle's huge Hot Sauce Festival. The event was so memorable that I started thinking about how to start something similar in Orange County, something that would determine once and for all the best salsa or hot sauce in OC.

Then, I had a book to write--HA! (Still do, for that matter.) But I'm glad to announce we finally have a date, venue and a skeleton of a format. Details after the jump!

Mark your calendars for Saturday, July 23--that's when our first Hot Sauce festival will occur at the Fullerton Public Library from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. There, you will be able to taste from the 20 best hot sauces in Orange County: 10 homemade, 10 from restaurants or commercial makers and select a people's winner for each category, while judges will choose  the best from each as well.

And how will we get to those 20? With a preliminary round judged by Edwin, Dave, Shuji, Anne Marie, Javier, Michelle, myself and a couple of other celebrity (for us) judges. We want to taste your creations, or those of your parents or restaurant, whether it's pico de gallo, pepper sauce, vinegary, fiery, made with fruit, nothing but jalapeños, or something else. Just stay away from liquid smoke, for chrissakes.

Details will come on how to enter your hot sauces, but know right now there will only be two categories (restaurant/commercial and homemade), and entries are limited to people in the OC/Long Beach area--better not try to sneak one in, Eastlos. There will be a nominal entry fee (probably no more than single digits), because the Weekly doesn't exploit and this is a fundraiser for the Fullerton Public Library, and there will be Latino vendors (Salteñas! Pupusas! Tacos!) to complement all the salsa-tasting. Spread the word, and stay tuned...

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