Hotly Anticipated

The 12th annual 'Austin Chronicle' Hot Sauce Festival results

Hotly Anticipated
Photo By John Anderson

Wasn't it just like Mother Nature to save the first 100-degree day of the summer of 2002 until Sunday, Aug. 25, for the 12th annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival? Undaunted by the environmental blast furnace, thousands of generous, food-loving Austinites slurped up beer and hot sauce in Waterloo Park in support of the Capital Area Food Bank, while other hearty souls ran in a foot race and attended a Willie Nelson concert to benefit our nation's farmers. If there's good salsa, good beer, and good music for a good cause, Austin will gladly provide a good turnout, regardless of the temperature.

Looking at this year's winners, you'll find some very familiar names in the Individual, Restaurant, and Commercial Bottler divisions, highlighted with a few newcomers here and there. Every individual, restaurant, or business that has won or placed in the past will have a star next to their name. After years representing the Yellow Rose, frequent winner chef John Randall was back this year under the Texas Chili Parlor banner, garnering first place with both his longtime favorite red sauce as well as a Yellow Tomato & Habañero Salsa in the Special Variety category. Trudy's Texas Star was back, as always, with their award-winning red sauce and a Guisada Salsa as their specialty brew, and Manuel's chef Francisco Cortez wowed the crowd's taste buds with his mole. The newest winner in the restaurant division was El Rincon, Consuelo Leos' 11-year-old Mexican restaurant in downtown Pflugerville, that placed with a green sauce. When the tasting was over and "the people" had spoken, winners in the commercial division looked remarkably like last year's list, with a little shuffling of places. Perennial favorite Sgt. Pepper's, owned by Austinite J.P. Hayes, won a berth in three of the four categories, while last year's individual winner, Larry Blanton, placed third with his new ChileChaser brand of red sauce. As always, we encourage you to seek out your favorite salsas on Austin restaurant tables and grocery store shelves. Here's a list of winners so you'll know just what to look for.

Individual Division

Red Sauce

First Place: Ronald Walters*

Second Place: Brent Kirby*

Third Place: Paul Peterson

Honorable Mentions: Garet Galster, Deborah Vogt (Georgetown), Catherine Solomon, Leah Salina, Jeff Schulz, Chris Haight, Lance Brauckman, Michelle Broussard and Brandon Brewer, Gardner Williams, Mark Kobdish (Smithville), Carmela Garcia (Temple), Courtney Yantis

Green Sauce

First: Mark Kobdish* (Smithville)

Second: Barry Hoelscher

Third: Shane Pickett

Honorable Mention: Ronald Walters

Special Variety

First: Burt Friedman

Second: Susan McCartney*

Third: Carolyn Bigham (Belton)

Honorable Mentions: Ron Schmidt, Susan McCartney, Brigid Larson, Michael Rypka

Restaurant Division

Red Sauce

First: Texas Chili Parlor (chef John Randall*)

Second: Curra's Grill*

Third: Trudy's Texas Star*

Honorable Mentions: Trudy's Texas Star, Iron Cactus Southwestern Grill & Margarita Bar

Green Sauce

First: Evita's Botanitas*

Second: El Rincon in Pflugerville

Third: Antonio's Tex-Mex*

Special Variety

First: Texas Chile Parlor Yellow Tomato & Habañero Salsa (John Randall*)

Second: Trudy's Texas Star Guisada Salsa*

Third: Manuel's Mole

Honorable Mentions: Iguana Grill, Madam Mam's Noodles & More, Antonio's TexMex

Commercial Bottlers Division: People's Choice Awards

Red Sauce

First: Ana's Salsa*

Second: Texas Lava's Simply Delicious Salsa*

Third: Lava Food's ChileChaser Salsa (Larry Blanton*)

Honorable Mentions: Rose's Fresh Foods' Rose's Red Salsa, Big Willy's Lip Smack'n Salsa, Austin Spice Company's Smoky Hill Red, Texas-Texas Salsa Co.'s Texas-Texas Premium Salsa, Classy Delites' Jamaican Salsa

Green Sauce

First: Rose's Fresh Foods Salsa Fresca Verde*

Second: Sgt. Pepper's Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa*

Third: Austin Slow Burn's Green Sauce*

Honorable Mentions: Austin Spice Company's Smoky Hill Verde Sauce, Howard's Yummies' Jump Up & Kick Yo Butt Chipotle Nopalitos Salsa Verde, Austin Spice Company's Smoky Hill Green Chile Verde

Special Variety

First: Sgt. Pepper's Smoky Chipotle Pesto*

Second: Classy Delites' Balsamic Black Bean Salsa*

Third: Austin Spice Co. Campfire Corn & Bean Special Salsa*

Honorable Mentions: ATA International's Hot Paradise Hot Salsa, Hombres Foods' Peach Mango, Austin Slow Burn's Jamaican Jerk Marinade, Austin Slow Burn's Habañero Jelly, Classy Delites' Mango Salsa, Texas-Texas Salsa Co.'s Texas-Texas Mango Almond Salsa, Texas-Texas Salsa Co.'s Texas-Texas Peach Pecan, Howard's Yummies' Jump Up & Kick Yo Butt Peach Mango Habañero

Pepper Sauce

First: Aztexan Pepper Co. Habañero Supreme*

Second: Winston's Hot Pepper Sauce*

Third: Sgt. Pepper's Tejas Tears*

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