We attended the first Chilli Festival and Bazaar last October 18 in Quezon City staged by an informal group called Chilli Heads Philippines.
There, we discovered that there are a lot of people who are fond of hot foods. And we also discovered that hot chilli is not only used in the traditional foods that you and I know.
Did you know that somebody is making ice cream with hot chilli and other ingredients? One variant is called “Be Cool Express” which is made of chilli, ginger and coco cream. Other ice cream variants are chilli calamansi and tablea chilli.
At the festival we also saw wines infused with hot chilli. And according to the promoter of this group, Ponchit Ponce Enrile, somebody is also brewing beer with hot chilli. Beer variaants include “Sinturon ni Judas”, Bicol Express and Chipotle Ale.
Chilli Heads Philippines may be considered just an informal group of chilli lovers without the usual officers and board members. There are no elections and there are no membership fees. There are no funds and elections to quarrel about. It’s just like the concept of the Agri-Kapihan that we started in 1986.
Ponchit is well known in the world of plants, both ornamentals and plantation crops. He used to manage the farm of businessman Danding Cojuangco in Negros Occidental. He and his wife also run a restaurant in Davao City. And currently, he manages a farm of another Cojuangco in Lipa City.
Last year, Ponchit asked the collaboration of somebody well known as a chilli lover internationally and a young student who is IT savvy. The fellow who is doing his personal research on hot chillis, planting and breeding the same, and linking with similarly-inclined people in other countries, is Dennis dela Paz. And the young man who is expert in making web sites is Jay de Leon.
Jay developed a website which announced to the world the goal of Chilli Heads Philippines. To the surprise of Ponchit and his collaborators, more than a thousand aficionados responded. These include planters, processors, chefs or people who love to cook with chilli, people who love to eat hot foods, and what Ponchit calls “usisero” and the “takot ako” type.
A total of 184 members participated in the first hot chilli festival and bazaar, plus non-members who were probably curious to know what it’s all about. The festival was announced in our blog, zacsarian.com. Ponchit believes that more could have attended the event were it not for the inclement weather.
Many of the members brought with them planting materials, seeds, fresh fruits, processed items like different hot sauces, hot bagoong, wine and many others.
The event was also highlighted by competitions. There was an offer of P500 for everyone who could finish eating one fruit of some of the hottest chillis in the world. And a fellow who was able to finish two was Engr. Larry Cariño, an Ilocano who is better known as “Lakay Labuyo.”
Lakay Labuyo very slowly finished bite by small bite the hottest variety from India called Bhutjolokia. It was at one time considered the hottest chilli in the world but it has been overtaken by other varieties. Considered the hottest chilli today, according to Ponchit, is Carolina Reaper developed by an American company. The other hot chilli that Lakay Labuyo ate was Seven Pod Primo which is considered two times hotter than Bhutjolokia. Well, Lakay Labuyo was awarded P1,000 for his feat but he donated the sum to the group for its coming projects.
There was also a competition among sauces made of the Philippine labuyo. And the run-away winner was Paolo Clavecilla who owns Traydor Hot Sauce. His three winning concoctions are Judas, Mata Hari and Brutus.
There were two cook offs. One is for Pinoy barbecue and the winner was Daisy Langenegger, a well known organic food products enthusiast. There was also a contest in cooking Bicol Express and the winner was Vin Lava.
Joining Chilli Heads Philippines can be rewarding in a number of ways. One can meet similarly-inclined people who can be of help in such fields as growing plants, processing the harvest, linkage to the market and many new ideas that could be adopted for one’s own project.
The group is planning the second chilli festival and bazaar in April next year. They are looking for a venue that could accommodate more participants and attendees. Contact Ponchit Ponce Enrile at 0917-300-1054.