Get your chilli on, Brisbane!

Briz Chilli Fest supports Cystic Fibrosis Queensland.

As the organiser of Brisbane’s first Chilli Festival – BrizChilli Fest – on Sunday 10th June,2018, I am rapidly discovering a whole new world of culinary quirkiness out there!

The festival is a foray into that peculiar and particular gastronomic delight that is the hot chilli pepper.

Thanks to ushotstuff.com website for the following information:

Chilli (or Chile) peppers are native to South and Central America. Having been introduced to South Asia in the 1500s, they soon came to dominate the world spice trade. Few could have imagined the impact of Columbus’ discovery of a spice so pungent that it rivaled the better known black pepper native to South Asia. India is now the largest producer of chillies in the world.

There are about 25 species in the genus Capsicum and they originate from Central and South America. Several species have been domesticated to produce many cultivated types, ranging from mild and sweet to hot and pungent.

Chile peppers are perhaps the first plants to be domesticated in Central America, where there is evidence that they were consumed in 7500 BC.

Mexico and northern Central America is thought to be the centre of origin of Capsicum annuum, and South America of Capsicum frutescens. These were first introduced to South Asia in the 16th century and have now become the two most important species in the region.

Pungent varieties are the most valuable and frequently grown chiles in South Asia. They were introduced to South Asia in the 16th century by Portuguese and Spanish explorers via trade routes from South America. In the 16th century the celebrated musician Purandarasa described chillies in lyrics as a comfort to the poor and the great flavor-enhancer.

Exactly how the plant spread from South Asia to China and Southeast Asia is not recorded in much detail, but it is assumed that local, Arab and European traders carried the chiles via traditional trading routes along the coasts and great waterways such as the Ganges.

Chiles were readily incorporated into local South Asian cuisines perhaps because people were already familiar with pungent and spicy flavors. Mounds of red chile powder and yellow turmeric powder give splashes of vibrant color to every food market in India today.

Many varieties of chile have been developed with names such as Dhani from the north east and Sannam, Nalcheti, Todappally, Jwala, Mundu and Kanthari from the south. In India distinctions are mainly made between color and size.

So, now that I’ve passed on that bit of chil-education to you, what is it, you may ask, that would entice an otherwise normal human being to inflict upon themselves the unbearable hotness of a truly hot chilli pepper?

Since joining a number of chilli growing and fanatic groups on Facebook, I’ve discovered that this is one area of food that attracts particularly passionate people.  Starting off eating chillies, they soon become addicted to growing their own fruit so as to have an endless supply of their favourite gastronomic torture food.  Well, to me it would be torture, but lo and behold, there are bunches of people out there whose lives would just not be worth living without the addition of chilli to just about everything they consume.

My good friend Wayne Taylor of Rocoto Chilli Farm north of Brisbane, Queensland, is not an avid fan of eating chilli, yet is bound for glory now that he has started research and development in his own bio-tech laboratory, setting a course to cloning and propagating the hottest chilli in the world, no less.

Then there are the sauce-makers like Rob Dunn of Australian Extreme Chilli Condiments or Patrick Beresford of 13 Angry Scorpions, or Andrew Dover of Shashemane Spices, Vaughn Henry of Cobra Chilli, Steve Bonham aka Steve the Chilli Man, Liesl Herbert of Gourmet Outfitters and her “Chilli Chick” range, and Alex and Dave of Clem and Frank’s Sauces (no, the pugs do not taste-test the sauce…).

Not to mention the culinary delights of  Jason Seaton and his Seaton Fire chilli chocolate range, and Mallory Tocino’s chilli jerky range, and Brett Sharwood with his Gourmet XCellence range of smallgoods including chilli specialities.

As festival organiser, I am privy to getting to know these wonderfully talented people who choose to dedicate their life’s work for the production of a range of amazing chilli relishes, sauces, spice powders, chocolates, jerkies and seasonings.

I have found that each of these people has a story to tell. Whether it’s overcoming hardship and physical disability and having to start all over in a new career in their forties, or just deciding that a niche in the market had to be filled.

I even have the Pink Fairy making me some chilli fairy floss on the day…..best keep that one away from the kids…

For those whose stories I’ve been able to glean in order to include them in media releases, I thank you for sharing them. For those I’ve yet to discover, perhaps for Briz Chilli Fest 2019, I will be able to learn a little more about you!

As for me, I don’t intend to change my wussy-chilli-eater status any time soon – I think I’ll probably be sticking to something around the 1 or 2 mark on the Scoville scale of chilli heat….

As a festival organisation team of one, I have designed every flyer, poster, banner, ticket, booklet, program, website, facebook and instagram post, and even sewed my own chilli costumes for promotional use, been the video-grapher for the promotional videos, and found myself sewing a tiny costume for  our newly-minted Briz Chilli Dog – Noodle the Dachshund (he has his own instagram page #noodle.the.dachshund) for a photo shoot tomorrow.

I am proud to be donating 10% of net tickets sales to Cystic Fibrosis Queensland who will be there on the day to raise awareness of this debilitating disease which receives no government funding towards finding a cure.   All stall-holders will be making a discretionary donation, we will have lots of rafflfes, and the big raffle will be a “sit” in the Ignite Broadband Lamborghini when it fires up its amazing engine!

As a long-time supporter of the Big Issue magazine, I warmly welcome the Bulimba vendor to our festival and hope he has a brilliant day of sales.  He may well be able to take a long holiday after the festival. Let’s hope so.

All of this creating, planning and implementing PR represents many, many hours of work for this humble music entrepreneur and festival-organiser, and more than a few anxious mornings lying in bed wondering what on earth I am doing….. but for the most part, I enjoy the creative process which is bringing to fruition an idea that might just grow into something fantastic.  I am indeed a serial entrepreneur.  No guts, no glory.

Sometimes all I have is the knowledge that I pulled it off – even if there is not much  money in the bank to show for it.   Festivals, as with many things in life, start small, need lots of nurturing and a sensible approach, and when done properly can reward the creator ten-fold.  At the embryonic stage, it’s sometimes a little daunting and over-whelming, but in the true spirit of the entrepreneur, we take the fear and do it anyway.

As Winston Churchill said….. “Success is not final.  Failure is not fatal.  It’s the courage to continue that matters,”  and continue I must.

So, won’t you join me on Sunday 10th June at Bulimba Golf Club for a full day of fun, crazy, chilli entertainment.

We have some live bands – Eddie Gazani and Forro, Canta la Tumba, and the brilliantly talented Mr Sean Mullen closing out the day with his blues guitar.

Thanks must go to my Megahot Sponsor, Ignite Broadband, who will be bringing their CEO’s sleekly flame-wrapped Lamborghini to thrill the crowds.  For those wanting some horticultural help, Chris Faast of Aqua Gardening will be showing us the wonderful world of hydroponics.

Thanks must go to Shannon Harvey of Place Realty at Bulimba, and Garry Price of Ray White East Brisbane for their spicy sponsorship too.

Well, it’s off to plan next week’s social media posts, and check my media releases.

I hope to see you all at the festival – Brisbane, let’s get our chilli on!