The first of many! Inaugural Letchworth Street Chilli Fiesta goes down a treat

PUBLISHED: 13:28 15 May 2017 | UPDATED: 22:10 15 May 2017

Grim Reaper Foods' Jay and Russell Williams. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Grim Reaper Foods' Jay and Russell Williams. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Archant

Letchworth's newest food festival proved a smash hit at the weekend, as young and old alike enjoyed the spicy tastes of the town's inaugural chilli fiesta.

Pippa Coultard has a glitter tattoo. Picture: Karyn HaddonPippa Coultard has a glitter tattoo. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Chilli producers from near and far set out their stalls in Leys Avenue for Saturday’s Letchworth Street Chilli Fiesta, with everything from chilli chocolate to chilli cheese on offer, in addition to a wide range of sizzling sauces, spirits and more.

And town centre manager Tom Hardy said he had been ‘absolutely astounded’ by the massive turnout for the 25-stall Chilli Fest UK event, which he said was set to be an annual Letchworth feature for years to come.

He said: “As a first-year test event, it was unbelievably successful. We’re really pleased.

“The town was packed, and a lot of the bars and restaurants were busy as well – the whole town was much busier than on a usual Saturday, the footfall was great.

“We’ll bring it back next year in some shape or form, definitely. Chilli Fest UK usually do their thing in car parks and such, so they were astounded at all the people into chilli-related stuff around here.”

The fare on offer included dips and sauces inspired by the Naga Viper pepper – one of the hottest chilli peppers ever measured, and briefly the Guinness World Record holder in 2011 – and vodka and beer infused with chillies.

There was also face-painting for the kids, and non-chilli barbecue food that was enjoyed by many visitors.

Asked to name a personal highlight of the day, Tom noted a stall selling hot curries.

Redwolf Vodka's Ashanti Athwal and Parm Singh. Picture: Karyn HaddonRedwolf Vodka's Ashanti Athwal and Parm Singh. Picture: Karyn Haddon

“That was really good, and the sauces were homemade,” he said.

“The guys there really knew their stuff about the different levels, and people were crowded around. They were excellent.”

Those tucking into the hot stuff included food aficionado Laurie Eggleston, who among other things enjoyed a sauce-laden chilli dog, one of what he called ‘so many yums’.

“I thought it was great,” said Laurie.

“We were impressed with how busy it was from 10.30am, when it all kicked off. Enjoyed making use of Crafty’s beer shop’s outdoor tables later in the afternoon too – wish they were a permanent feature!”

Letchworth’s Brad Chuck added: “We might need rain to help hose down fire-laden throats.”

Not everyone was satisfied, though, with one visitor tweeting: “Where was all the food?! No burritos, chilli con carne etc. Disappointing.”

The Garden City Brewery in The Wynd got in on the chilli-themed action with a one-off special called Mr Beer’s Bad Idea – a pale brew with habanero chilli, made with help of the aptly named Martyn Beer.

Brewery boss Holly-Anne Rolfe said it had been ‘a bonkers day’ for them, adding that the Bad Idea chilli beer went down very well with the punters.

The chilli fiesta looks firmly set to return next year, as Chilli Fest UK tweeted out afterwards: “See you all in 2018.”

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