Welcome to the Heat

'The Austin Chronicle' Hot Sauce Festival

Welcome to the Heat
Photo by John Anderson

Welcome to the coolest party in Austin, taking place during the hottest summer in recorded local history! We remain stubbornly proud of throwing a hot sauce party during the dog days of summer, but in deference to the ongoing, outrageous-temperature blast furnace and extraordinary drought, we offer the following helpful suggestions: Carefully extinguish any potentially dangerous smoking materials, pace yourself where hot sauce consumption is concerned, seek out shade when necessary, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Welcome to the Heat
Photo by John Anderson

As always, we've arranged a stellar lineup of local music, plenty of ice-cold beer and other beverages, and a selection of tasty snacks to provide a base for all that hot sauce sampling. Festival founder Robb Walsh and his panel of fellow judges are comfortably ensconced in their secret judging facility, ready to evaluate this year's entries. Our guests have an important judging job as well, so be sure to cast your vote in the People's Choice category for participating commercial bottlers.

In its 21st year, our festival continues to evolve without missing a step. We're in complete compliance with the health department's mandate that all hot sauces served to the public be prepared in commercial kitchens, thanks to Just Add Chef. Many of our aspiring contest winners are willing to give cooking in that kitchen a shot so you can taste their creations. We added a cooking demo tent featuring local celebrity chefs a couple of years back, and it's now one of the most popular elements of the festival. Contributing Food writer Claudia Alarcón is in charge of the tent, and she has arranged for chefs David Holtzman, Paul Petersen, and Mizael Saucedo to share hot sauce preparation secrets that could possibly enhance your future winning entries. Be sure to stop in there.

This will be the last time we celebrate in Water­loo Park for a few years due to upcoming construction on the city's Waller Creek Tunnel Project. We don't yet know where the festival's new home will be, but we assure you we'll always throw one hell of a party!

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