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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke
Tags >> business trends

Chile Harvesting, Mesilla Valley, New MexicoWhen the media get wind of a typical change in the ever-fluctuating world of economic agriculture, they just have to turn it into a crisis. Take the drop in harvested chile acreage over the last decade or so—down to 8,700 acres from a high of 29,000. Is this a "crisis" or merely a reflection of economic reality? I think the latter. Chiles compete against other crops that are often more profitable to grow: pecans, cotton, and even onions. Also contributing are the loss of agricultural land to development, cheaper imports from Mexico, and the necessity to use human labor to harvest green chile. (Red chile can be mechanically harvested, but not green...yet.)

Kraig Kraft, coauthor of a new book, Chasing Chiles, wrote an op-ed piece the the Albuquerque Journal (5-15-11) in which part of the headline refers to "fake N.M. chiles," a reference to chiles from Mexico that are imported for processing in southern New Mexico because local growers can't keep up with demand due to the competition from other crops. But ignored in this discussion is the fact that these are New Mexico varieties like 'NuMex 6-4 Heritage', developed by Dr. Paul Bosland's chile breeding team, and the seeds provided to Mexican growers. If you really, really want your chile, does it really matter if it is grown in the Mesilla Valley or 100 miles south of there in Chihuahua?  I don't think so.


The real problems lie below the surface of the hype and screaming of "fake chiles."  Here they are:

1.  The real fake chiles are "Hatch chiles."  There is no such thing.  "Hatch chiles" are a complete fabrication.  There is no such variety.  Hatch farmers devote most of their fields to alfalfa, and cannot possibly grow all the chiles labeled with the name of that tiny town.

2. New Mexican varieties are only part of the crop processed in southern New Mexico.  Even more important are the cayennes, paprika (non-pungent red chiles, by definition), and jalapeños.

3.  The New Mexico chiles deserving what Kraft calls "geographic indicators" (similar to Idaho potatoes and Florida oranges) are the endangered heirloom or land race chiles of northern New Mexico, like 'Chimayo'.

The recently-passed New Mexico Chile Advertising Act, which supposedly prohibits the advertising of chiles listed as New Mexican but not grown in the state, is a joke.  It is totally unenforceable, which renders it useless, and is another attempt by politicians to place a "legal fix" upon what is really just an economic fact of life brought on by changing times, NAFTA, and the ability of farmers in other countries to grow New Mexican varieties to meet the demand here.


Cabe Rawit Peppers at Market

It should come as no surprise that while the global economy heats up again, the prices of chile peppers across Southeast Asia are increasing, too. Rising food costs, a good indicator of economic inflation, have thus far contributed to concern in the Western world and turmoil in the Middle East. It would seem that Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, is no longer immune to the trouble.

Take a moment to chat with one of Indonesia’s many food vendors, and they’ll tell you the hard truth of their trade – food costs are on the rise, and nowhere is this more evident than with chile peppers, a staple of the local cuisine. Recently, chile pepper prices—particularly the price of Thai chiles, called “cabai rawit,” have jumped between three-fold to nearly ten-fold over the last year, making chiles more expensive than beef in some regions.

What’s causing chile pepper price inflation? In a recent article from Bloomberg Businessweek, contributor William Pesek identifies the culprits: Surprisingly, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has as much a role to play in the increase as recent devastation from La Nina weather patterns.

“Asia, with the exception of Japan, is booming,” says Pesek. “Any cursory look at data on gross domestic product and stock performance shows that. The trouble is, the region has too much of a good thing on its hands. Too many investors are seeking higher returns at the same time Europe is quaking and America’s outlook is shaky.”

So while investors are sending a deluge of cash into Asian markets, the cost of living is surging for local inhabitants. This is particularly worrisome for Southeast Asia, where many of its citizens survive on less than $200 a month. A rise in staple food products such as chile peppers, cooking oil, and rice could mean a difficult time ahead.

It’s not just food vendors and economists who are keeping a close watch on chile pepper inflation; even Indonesian leaders, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, are weighing in on the crisis, advising Indonesians to grow their own peppers or look to hot sauces and other fiery substitutes until prices cool off.

But in a region where no dish goes without a spicy condiment, Indonesians are reluctant to turn their backs on such an ingrained culinary staple, making the cost of chile peppers a possible tipping point in the future of Southeast Asia's economic and social stability.


 

 

After running Germany's first Hot Shop for ten years, Suncoast Peppers GmbH will shift their focus back to publishing, and will  discontinue their online shop by mid 2011. In addition to selling chile food and nonfood products, Suncoast Peppers owner Harald Zoschke authored and published the most popular German book on chile peppers and spicy food, Das Chili Pepper Buch, sold through book stores and Amazon. "The book continues to be a bestseller. We have many more projects like that mapped out, which always had to stand back, as the highly successful shop tied us up completely," Zoschke said. "Those ten years were great, but we feel this is also a good moment to shift focus to other exciting ventures."

Suncoast Peppers will continue to run and expand Pepperworld.com. Harald and Renate Zoschke plan to open the most comprehensive German-language chile and barbecue related content Website for advertising targeted at its audience.

Harald will also continue working with Dave and Sunbelt Shows on various projects. Stay tuned!


The Digital Cookbook Revolution

Posted by: Kelli Bergthold

Tagged in: TV , games , food trends , entertainment , business trends , books

Online Recipes

Can’t decide what to make for dinner tonight? Having trouble with your pizza dough technique? Gone are the days of rifling through a library of cookbooks to find the best tiramisu recipe or the perfectly sized meal for a party of one. The next generation of food documentation is here, and it’s streaming online 24/7.

Last December, YouTube announced the most popular cooking videos of 2010. Among them, viewers can learn what goes into a jalapeño POP burger and how to carve a potato ball in a potato box.

Scarlett Lindeman from the Atlantic explains it best in her recent article:

“[E]ven the most well-stocked library cannot undermine the speed and expanse of the Internet. Cooks curious about a particular technique can click through YouTube archives as if turning the pages of a well-thumbed French Laundry cookbook. I know many who do and then pass them around via e-mail and Facebook. Cutline Communications, a consumer technology PR company, has noted that ‘more Americans are turning to YouTube to learn how to prepare all kinds of foods.’”

Embedded videos from sites such as YouTube aren’t the only forms of new cooking media. Throwing its weight into the arena are video games dedicated to the art of cooking. Games like the popular Diner Dash and Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine, are teaching tech-savvy cooks how to filet a fish and julienne an onion from the comfort of their game consoles. Smartphones have also joined the fray, and you can now access thousands of recipes from your iPhone or Android mobile device.

While there’s something inherently charming about a thirty-year-old edition of Mastering The Art of French Cooking, or a well-used, sauce-splattered edition of 1,001 Best Hot and Spicy Recipes, digital media is on its way to making the art of cooking accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

See the full collection of top cooking videos on The Huffington Post.


ThrowdownRippin’ Red Wing Sauce, the newest product from Rizzotti Foods, LLC will be going head to head with the one and only DEFCON Sauces! The gauntlet was thrown in a thread on peppersandmore.com in August, and both Rippin’ Red Wing Sauce and DEFCON have accepted the challenge.

“It is an honor and pleasure to challenge the mighty DEFCON sauces. We have nothing but respect and admiration for John Dilley and his products,” said Rizotti Foods owner John Rizzotti.Rippin Red Hot Wing Sauce

Hosted by Peppers and More, the contest will feature a blind taste test using tasters who have never tried either of the two sauces. The sauces will be judged on a list of four criteria, rating the food with a 1 to 5 number system, 5 being the best:

  1. How well does the sauce cling/stick to wings? 1-2-3-4-5
  2. Aroma? 1-2-3-4-5
  3. Color of sauce 1-2-3-4-5
  4. Overall taste? 1-2-3-4-5Defcon Sauces

To find out more about the Throwdown, visit www.scottrobertsweb.com, or read the original thread on www.peppersandmore.com!

Learn more about the challengers: DEFCON Sauces and Rippin' Red Wing Sauces.


Fiery Foods Show 2010There has been misinformation flying around on certain Chilehead blogs about the National Fiery Foods & BBQ Show. Some folks have been trying to compare our show with a competing show in Texas (which was recently purchased by new people who just managed to put up a website, and no longer has the backing of a certain food magazine that can’t seem to publish a magazine any more).

One comment claimed that the National Fiery Foods & BBQ Show was much larger (that part is correct), but the show in Texas was ‘more fun’ because of free alcohol and parties. Question: exactly why do companies exhibit at shows? Is it to have fun and get free booze? Or is it to promote your product to the largest possible audience? That’s the difference between a festival and a trade show.

Exhibiting at any show is costly and time consuming. Sometimes it’s a lot of fun. So if you’re going to spend that money, doesn’t it make sense to direct your energy where you’ll get the most bang for your buck? The Fiery Foods & BBQ Show is the place.

And about that imagined absence of buyers at the Fiery Foods & BBQ Show. We’re in our 23rd year, and every year our buyer list expands—you do the math. It’s a proven fact that many buyers come to our show every year and make their buying decisions based on what they see.

We appreciate everyone who participates in the Fiery Foods & BBQ Show, either as a buyer, exhibitor, or attendee. Trying to decide which show will be the best for your company? That’s your call. But at the end of the day, Albuquerque is still home to the biggest, the longest running, the Hottest Show on Earth!

Lois Manno
Editor, www.fiery-foods.com
Sunbelt Shows

PS:  Chilehead blogger Scott Roberts has a poll up about what show you would attend in 2011 if you only had one show to go to.  If you like our show, please take his poll (3 seconds max) that is here.


 

Check out the Events Calendar at the bottom of the Fiery Foods & BBQ homepage for fiery events taking place across the country. Use our handy events list to satisfy your craving for all things spicy! Here's a tasty sampling for the weekend of August 21-22:

• Mammoth Festival - Wine, Music, Food & Art, August 20 - August 22 in Mammoth Lakes, CA

• Diamond State BBQ Championship, Saturday, August 21 in Dover, DE
• Salsa Showdown, Saturday, August 21 in Holland, MI
• Taste of Los Alamos Fundraiser, Saturday, August 21 in Los Alamos, NM

Click here to see all upcoming events. Have an event to add to the menu? Contact us at fiery-foods@comcast.net.


By Jim McMahon

 

Paul PrudhommeAs one of America’s best-known chefs, Paul Prudhomme has been featured in dozens of prime-time television and cable programs, and has been the subject of many magazine articles. A best-selling author, he has written nine cookbooks and produced six cooking videos.  But Chef Paul is just as well known for his extensive line of Magic Seasoning Blends® – packaged dry spices, rubs, bottled sauces and marinades that can be found on major supermarket shelves throughout all 50 states of the U.S. and in 29 countries around the world.

Food-service and Food Processors

Located in the outskirts of New Orleans, Magic Seasoning Blends is also well known for its extensive line of distinctive seasoning products packaged for restaurants, institutional foodservice, food processors and co-packing operations, which combined represent 65 percent of the company’s total sales volume. Packaging ranges from one-quarter of an ounce to 50-pound bulk containers, with an emphasis on consistent quality.

Recipe R&D for Food Processors

Chef Paul and His SpicesOriginally set-up more than 25 years ago within the celebrity chef’s popular New Orleans restaurant – K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, it has expanded over the years into a every productive research and development kitchen, staffed by several chefs under the personal direction of Chef Paul, and has rolled out more than 10,000 recipes for herb and spice blends, creating custom flavor profiles.

“What is really great about herbs and spices, is that when they are balanced there are so many directions that you can go,” explains the Chef. “When one of our clients says they want a certain kind of chicken flavor, we will come up with four or five original samples for them to try. Then they pick out the one they want and we adjust it to their particular taste.”

To meet the increasing demand for its products, Magic Seasoning BlendsNew manufacturing facility recently consolidated its two separate manufacturing and warehouse operations into a new 125,000 square-foot facility.

“There is absolutely no end to developing herbs and spices,” says Chef Paul.  “And my real passion is to make something that is healthy and exciting for our customers.”

For more information on Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Blends, Inc., visit their website at www.chefpaul.com.

Jim McMahon writes on technology in food processing. He can be reached at jim.mcmahon@zebracom.net.



Nat Decants Smartphone App

 

Ever wonder which wines go best with "green food," such as asparagus, chile peppers and peas? How about other fresh vegetables that we'll enjoy this summer and fall?
"Green foods are the problem children of the wine world," says Natalie MacLean, editor of one of the largest wine sites on the web at www.nataliemaclean.com. "But as a stubborn hedonist, I've found some terrific wines to drink with them."

Natalie has just launched a new mobile application for iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Droid and other smartphones. Developed by Cerado, this app builds on the success of her Drinks Matcher and includes all the pairings in the original app, plus thousands of wine reviews, recipes, articles, blog posts, glossary definitions, cellar journal and winery directory. You can access the new app at www.nataliemaclean.com/mobileapp.

In the spirit of going green (and giving back green), the new app is free. With the Nat Decants Mobile App, you can find the right wines, whether you're in a restaurant or at the liquor store restocking. It's like having a sommelier in your pocket.


HPP at Garden Fresh Gourmet

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

HPP Screen

 

I have just returned from a mind-boggling visit to Garden Fresh Gourmet's processing plants in Ferndale, Michigan. The image above is the programming screen for their ultra-high tech processor called HPP, or High Pressure Processing. In order to increase the shelf of their refrigerated fresh salsa and other deli delights, Jack Aronson installed this $3.5 million machine that kills every known bacterium, virus, protozoan, and mold, but not by heating. It's pressure that does it. A careful look at the screen will reveal that the pressure setpoint is 80,548 pounds per square inch, which is the approximate equivalent of being three miles under the sea. Unbelievably, the plastic packaging used withstands the pressure! This treatment extends the shelf life of their salsa to 70 days refrigerated, but Jack tells me that it's more like 100 days. 

About 12 years ago, Jack had a Mexican restaurant in Ferndale and he came as an attendee to the Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show and was inspired after tasting some fresh salsa. He started making fresh salsa and serving it to his customers and was soon supplying it to local supermarkets. Now Garden Fresh Gourmet is a $73 million dollar company and still growing at a furious pace. In fact, Jack has turned down acquisition offers from Nestle and Pepsico because he knows they would move his operation to other states and his 300 employees would be out of work. Jack still exhibits with us every year and enters the Scovie Awards. Garden Fresh has won more Scovies that any other company--a testament to high quality and hard work. For more information, go here.


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