The Austin Chronicle

Contest & Festival Facts

August 23, 2013, Food


The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival requests that you pay an admission fee in the form of three nonperishable food items to be donated to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. A collection site will be set up at the entrance to Fiesta Gardens.


At the heart of The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival is the contest itself. The blind-tasting competition for individuals, restaurants, and commercial bottlers is conducted by some of the top chefs in the state. They take hot sauce seriously, and so do most of the people who enter. Several previous winners in the individual category have gone on to start their own hot sauce companies.

The contest has three classes of competition: individuals (homemade), restaurants, and commercial bottlers. This gives us a good chance to recognize homemade sauces in a class by themselves. It also lets us consider salsas made fresh daily in restaurants, apart from those made for grocery store shelves. The categories in each class are designed to leave enough room for a wide variety of styles. In the past, special variety sauces have included fruit salsas, dried-pepper salsas, and even a purple sauce.

Restaurant, commercial, and individual hot sauces that have been made in a commercial kitchen are available for tasting by the public in the tasting pavilion at the center of Fiesta Gardens. Due to health department regulations, individuals' salsas cannot be served to the general public unless they were made in a commercial kitchen.

Entry and Judging

All entrants: Please bring a container of your best hot sauce to the check-in area at Fiesta Gardens between 10:30 and 11:30am on Sunday.

Restaurants: Please bring 1 quart of hot sauce.

Individuals: Please bring 1 pint of hot sauce if you made it at home, or 1 quart if you made it in a commercial kitchen. See info and entry form below. (All entries will be judged by our panel of judges, regardless of where they were made.)

Our judges pick winners in each of 10 categories:

Homemade red

Homemade green

Homemade special variety

Restaurant red

Restaurant green

Restaurant special variety

Commercial bottler red

Commercial bottler green

Commercial special variety

Commercial pepper sauce

Winners will be announced at 5:20pm from the festival stage.

People's Choice Awards for Commercial Salsas

Commercial hot sauces are available at separate booths around the park (marked by blue numbers on the map, available online and distributed at the event).

The public is invited to vote in these categories:

Commercial red sauce

Commercial green sauce

Commercial special variety

Commercial pepper sauce

Voting: The People's Choice voting for the best commercial bottler sauces will take place under the balloting tent to the west of the Tasting Pavilion.

Vote for your favorites by 4pm. Winners will be announced at 5:20pm.

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Hot Sauce Demo Tent

Head on over to the demonstration tent and watch local chefs make their specialty salsas. See p.60 for more info.

Noon-1pm: Eric Lucas (Whole Foods Market), special variety

1-2pm: Paul Macry (Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy), green sauce

2-3pm: Cindy Harrington (El Monumento), red sauce

Capital Area Food Bank Sizzling Summer Raffle

Raffle tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20. All proceeds help to feed our hungry friends and neighbors throughout Central Texas!

T-Shirts, Caps, & Koozies

Hot Sauce Festival T-shirts will be for sale under the Chronicle tent for only $10-15 each. We also have festival caps ($15), commemorative posters ($10), and Hot Sauce Festival Koozies ($3).

For map, registration rules, and more, visit our 2013 'Austin Chronicle' Hot Sauce Festival page.

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