21st Annual 'Austin Chronicle' Hot Sauce Festival Winners

Feel the burn! Texans show they can take the heat: red, green, and summer.

Commercial green sauce winners Jamie's Spanish Village
Commercial green sauce winners Jamie's Spanish Village (Photo by John Anderson)

The 21st annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival goes on record as officially the hottest Hot Sauce Fest ever, with temperatures Downtown registered at 112 degrees Fahrenheit. That's a tie for the highest temperature ever recorded in Austin, which was on Sept. 5, 2000. Despite the record heat, more than 15,000 people shared in this celebration of hot sauce, beer, music, and steely-eyed Texan endurance. The event collected 18,637 pounds of food, which translates into 14,909 meals for hungry Central Texans, and $17,024 for our partners at the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas.

Between commercial bottlers, restaurants, and individuals, 368 sauces were entered in this year's contest. Among the individual contestants, brand-new contenders garnered nearly all of the awards. The only exceptions were Marti Cardenas, who placed in 2008 and took second this year in special variety sauce, and Russell and Mattie Lewis, who continued their stranglehold on first place in the category.

While it's always good to see new faces, the crowd stuck with established favorites in people's choice voting, going for Hall of Flamers Austin Slow Burn, Tears of Joy Hot Sauce Shop, Logan's Habanero Relish, Aztex­an Pepper Company, and Ariel Zarate-Carmona's Don't Panic Hispanic Salsa. The newcomer to watch is Matt Hudson, who won both first and third place in the indi­vid­ual red sauce division last year. He started bottling his sauces under the My Chi­hua­hua Bites label and placed strongly in people's choice voting – second place in both red sauce and special variety sauce.

The celebrity judges bestowed the majority of their awards on Hall of Flamers Kala's Kuisine, Tears of Joy, Austin Slow Burn, and Texas-Texas Salsa from Sanderson Spec­ial­ty Foods. The two first-time winners in the commercial bot­tlers category – Indian Fig Salsa and Thai Gourmet's Cucumber Salsa – both brought distinctly exotic flavors to the table.

Among restaurants, Casa Chapala won for their red sauce, while Chucho's Mexican Restaurant once again took home the honors for its green. Tacodeli made a strong showing this year as well, taking the gold in special variety as well as the silver in red sauce. Torchy's Tacos captured one third place and two honorable mentions and seems to be coming up the back stretch for a win next year.

This year's event proves that Texans can take the heat others dare not attempt, both capsaicin-derived and triple-digit!


Red Sauce

1st Place: Casa Chapala

2nd Place: Tacodeli

3rd Place: Los Lomas Tex Mex

Honorable Mention: Vivo Cocina, Torchy's Tacos

Green Sauce

1st: Chucho's Mexican Restaurant (Pflugerville)

2nd: Sazón#

3rd: Torchy's Tacos*

Honorable Mention: Casa Chapala

Special Variety

1st: Tacodeli

2nd: Curra's Grill#

3rd: Dock & Roll Diner*

Honorable Mention: Torchy's Tacos, Sazón, El Rincon Mexican Restaurant (Pfluger­ville)


Red Sauce

1st: Anthony Padilla*

Commercial Red Sauce winner Don't Panic Hispanic
Commercial Red Sauce winner Don't Panic Hispanic (Photo by John Anderson)

2nd: Chris Buslett*

3rd: Adam Wear*

Honorable Mention: Anne Hickman (Ingram), Rene Moreno, Edward Zamova, Gary Peifer II, Brennan Neuman (San Antonio), Paul Moncus, Cyrus Sanchez (Pfluger­ville), Kala Uprety, Clay Black (Pflugerville), Pam Burrows (Jasper), River Perry (Leander), Judith Taylor (Victoria), Patty Tomasco

Green Sauce

1st: Randy Price* (Spicewood)

2nd: Rebecca Cooper*

3rd: Anne Hickman* (Ingram)

Honorable Mention: Lupe Sheppard (Pflugerville), Jesse Lemos, Dan Cook (Marble Falls), Corbin Edmondson

Special Variety

1st: Russell and Mattie Lewis

2nd: Marti Cardenas

3rd: Joey Gassie*

Honorable Mention: Russell Dillon, Dustin Bolin, Benjamin Block, Dale Whitman, Kala Uprety

Commercial Bottlers (Judges)

Red Sauce

1st: Tears of Joy 6th St. Red#

2nd: Austin Slow Burn Salsa con Habanero#

3rd: none

Green Sauce

1st: Jaime's Spanish Village Hot Green Salsa

2nd: Tears of Joy 6th St. Green#

3rd: Thai Gourmet Cucumber Salsa* (Dripping Springs)

Special Variety

People's Choice Commercial Specialty Sauce winner Logan's Habanero Relish
People's Choice Commercial Specialty Sauce winner Logan's Habanero Relish (Photo by John Anderson)

1st: Texas-Texas Fresh Roma Roasted#

2nd: Austin Slow Burn Green Chile Salsa Fresca#

3rd: Kala's Kuisine Chutney Salsa#

Pepper Sauce

1st: Tears of Joy August in Austin#

2nd: Melinda's Original XXXtra Hot Pepper Sauce* (Irving)

3rd: Winston's Hot Pepper Sauce*

Honorable Mention: Melinda's Original Naga Jolokia Pepper Sauce (Irving)

Commercial Bottlers (People's Choice)

Red Sauce

1st: Don't Panic Hispanic

2nd: My Chihuahua Bites Salsa*

3rd: La Familia XX Red Salsa* (Corpus Christi)

Honorable Mention: Tears of Joy 6th St. Red, Austin Slow Burn Salsa Con Habanero, Kala's Kuisine Curry Chipotle Salsa, Texas-Texas Premium Roma Chipotle, Winston's Mango Hot Sauce, Ana's Sun Spot Salsa (Cedar Park)

Green Sauce

1st: Don't Panic Hispanic Greengo

2nd: Austin Slow Burn Salsa Verde#

3rd: Tears of Joy 6th St. Green#

Honorable Mention: Thai Gourmet Cucumber Salsa (Dripping Springs), La Familia Roasted Green Salsa (Corpus Christi), Jaime's Spanish Village Hot Green Salsa, Ana's Sun Spot Salsa Guacamole Dip (Cedar Park), Kala's Kuisine Hotvocado

Special Variety

1st: Logan's Habanero Relish

2nd: My Chihuahua Bites Blanco Party Dip*

3rd: Indian Fig Salsa*

Honorable Mention: Silverleaf Ghost Pepper Sauce (Stafford), Granddaddy's Sweet Southern Heat, Tears of Joy Tequila Lime Hot Sauce, Austin Slow Burn Green Chile Salsa Fresca, Winston's Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce, Jaime's Spanish Village Chile Con Queso

Pepper Sauce

1st: Aztexan Habanero Supreme#

2nd: Austin Slow Burn Creamy Jalapeno#

3rd: Tears of Joy August in Austin#

Honorable Mention: Taste of Texas From the Vine Demoness Sweet & Hot (Grapevine), Shanita's Salsitas Hal's Hot Love, Kala's Kuisine Gingery Habanero, Winston's Hot Pepper Sauce

* denotes first-time winner

# denotes Hall of Flame member

All are from Austin unless otherwise noted

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