About the Scovie Awards
The Scovie Awards evolved from the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show after 1996 when the contest was called “The Fiery Foods Challenge.” Originally, it was part of the show and even had a People’s Choice Award that was voted on by the general public. After we discovered ballot-stuffing during the contest, the decision was made to separate the show and the awards, which were renamed “The Scovie Awards” to honor the memory of Wilbur Scoville, the scientist who invented the Scoville Organoleptic Test in 1912 to determine the heat scale of chile peppers.
Amateur Division 2003 Scovie Awards
In the early days of the Scovie Awards Competition, we had two divisions, Professional and Amateur. But after a few years of conducting the Amateur Division, we discovered that the entrants were not following proper procedures for manufacturing their products.
After dealing with jars of salsa that either leaked or exploded, we worried about the safety of our judges. So we changed the contest, dropping the Amateur Division and replacing it with the Advertising and Marketing Division. The professional Tasting Division remains to this day.
The Scovie Awards Competition accepts entries for two months during the summer and the judging is held the Monday of the week between the New Mexico State Fair and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The judging, which is not open to the public, consists of 80 to 100 judges, mostly food professionals, who sample products in coded cups in what is called a “blind tasting.” They fill out judging forms and rate the products according to eye appeal, aroma, flavor, and heat scale, and the forms are later totaled and compiled by our staff.
About the ZestFest
ZestFest is one of the largest events in the country that showcases the zestiest products on the market. From ‘mom & pop’ brands to industry leaders, ZestFest provides an opportunity for companies to put their wares in front of not only the consumer, but also those in the industry, including retail buyers and restaurants. In addition to the plethora of zesty products available for sampling, ZestFest offers a wide range of entertainment throughout the 3-day event.
The main stage celebrity cooking demonstrations allow guests to ask questions and get tips from the region’s most renowned chefs. Top chefs returning this year include Jon Bonnell, of Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine and Buffalo Brothers, and Eddie Deen.
Visitors can watch fierce competition between gastronomic rivals or prove their gusto by participating in Wingstop’s Atomic wing eating contest, which is returning this year, or the jalapeño eating contest. From live music to food competitions, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Gregory Bagarozy, the Owner of ZestFest, says, “There’s nothing like the feeling of walking the aisles of Texas ZestFest and knowing that the hottest foods on earth are all right there, ready for the sampling! I spend the whole year preparing for ZestFest—both learning about great products and increasing my tolerance for chiles—and once I’m there, I try to taste them all. As they say, it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!”