24 | Oct | 11

Richard Johnson

Chili Standoff

I love chili. It’s sexy food. Add a bottle of red wine, a generous helping of candlelight, a dash of Johnny Mathis and my 220 pounds of pure Grade-A man-meat, you’ve got a freak fest to write home about. So judging Chili Standoff — the fourth Tweat Up event — was a real pleasure. The competitors – who included Chef Jocky from the Fat Duck, Lucky Chip, Gizzi Erskine, Chilango, Leon, All Star Lanes, Dock Kitchen and Carl Clarke of Disco Bistro – were all tasted blind. I was fully expecting some lip remover in a bowl – meat that was like stepping on a bit of Lego in the middle of the night. But no. Gizzi’s was the hottest. “Burn you twice” she said. “Going in, and coming out”. But after tasting all nine entrants, I felt amazing. That was because of the capsaicin – the active ingredient in the chili. When it comes in contact with the nerve endings in the tongue and mouth, pain messengers carry a “Fire! Fire!” message to the brain. The brain then puts the body into high gear: the heart beats faster, the mouth salivates, the nose sniffles, the gastrointestinal tract works harder, and the face breaks out in a hot sweat. The brain, perceiving that the body has been injured, releases endorphins – natural painkillers. And it builds into a mild euphoria. When I presented the first prize (well done to the amazing Carl Clarke from outta nowhere and Disco Bistro) I want it on record that I was on a chili high. The rum cocktails could have had something to do with it. But roll on next year, man……. Pic by Dave Rowlinson.