Chilli Standoff

I am competing in this year’s Chilli Standoff, organized by Tweat Up. I love competitive cooking in general and I’m particularly thrilled to be up against a bunch of local heavyweights including Lucky Chip, Mark “The Rib Man” Gevaux, Will Yates, and Gizzi Erskine.

It will be interesting to see what the others come up with. The chefs involved are all very different in personality and style, so I’m anticipating nine very different chillies. For my part, I’ve devised one inspired by the Pacific Ring of Fire.

The Pacific Ring of Fire is a volcanically and seismically active zone located along the perimeter of the Pacific Ocean. Here’s a handy map from Wikipedia:

As you can see, it covers a lot of rich culinary territory. My idea is to utilize as many key foods as possible from the regions that constitute the Ring of Fire to maximize the following seven attributes:

  • umami
  • spice
  • heat
  • complexity
  • richness
  • exoticism
  • texture

To these ends I’ve chosen to feature the following areas and ingredients:

  • Japan: kombu, katsuobushi, shiitake, Hatchō miso
  • The Philippines: pigs’ blood, bagoong
  • Indonesia/Malaysia: shrimp sambal, kicap manis
  • New Zealand: lamb, Syrah wine
  • Peru/Chile: sweet potatoes, quinoa
  • Mexico: black and pinto beans, various dried chillies, nixtamal
  • California: pale ale, burger cheese
  • British Columbia: elk

I am possibly most excited about those last two. I’ve made my own sour cream and onion flavored burger cheese that tastes like Pringles and melts like Velveeta; and I’ve sourced elk from a company called Exotic Meats which will take the form of little meatballs. The chilli will also be bulked out with beef cheek and pork cheek from Donald Russell!

So if you’re not doing anything this Saturday, the 17th of November, come to Hackney to gorge on chilli – and vote for me, of course! Tickets can be purchased here.

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