ZestFest

What food is Texas known for? In addition to classic Texas barbecue, any and all spicy and zesty foods top the list. Whether it’s salsas, dips, queso, or barbecue sauce, Texans like their cuisine hot. So if you like to work up a little sweat and love all things ghost pepper, jalapeño, or habanero, put ZestFest on your event list and get to Irving in January.

A Spicy Texas Twist

Gathering the very best chefs, brands, creators, and retailers responsible for the zestiest foods on the planet, ZestFest in Irving is one of the few events of its kind in the country. Here, guests can enjoy an entire weekend gulping down eye-watering Texas recipes, participating in distinctly Texan eating competitions like the Wingstop Atomic Wing Eating Contest and the PuckerButt Jalepeno Eating Contest, and stocking up on new spicy finds. ZestFest is the festival for heat-seekers.

But that’s not all. The three-day ZestFest also includes an excellent live music lineup and special cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs. Don’t miss your chance to participate in one or all of these spicy events, ask questions of Texas chefs about their spicy and zesty creations, and marvel at the ingenuity of some of the products being shared—ghost pepper and blueberry hot sauce anyone?

Competitions and Prizes

Other six-alarm events taking place during ZestFest include the Fiery Food Challenge, where contestants—hot, spicy, and zesty food brands and creators—share their hottest recipes to be judged. The challenge invites hot, really hot, spicy, and zesty foods and fiery food-related products to compete for the prestigious Golden Chile Award, one of only two fiery food awards that stand out in the United States. Over three days of judging, products are evaluated in the following categories:

  • Consumer Ready - Open and serve
  • Cook Off - Used in mixes or cooking applications
  • Marketing - Submitted on an art board
  • Best New Product - New to market within the past year

The Golden Chile awards are presented on Friday night. On Saturday, ZestFest attendees can take part in the People’s Preference Awards, where you can do your own taste tests and judge the hot, spicy, and zesty salsas, sauces, and dips for yourself.

The Best in Zest

ZestFest is an excellent chance to watch the best Texas chefs create their spiciest recipes. Past chefs include Jon Bonnell, Peter Mollett, Shaun O’Neale, Sarah Penrod, Aryen Moore-Alston, Loreal Gavin, Eddie Deen, Eduardo Alvarez, and more. The event also features a pig roast hosted by Chef Eddie Deen. Here, you can dig into some delicious and spicy Texas BBQ from one of Texas’s finest.

ZestFest is typically held every January at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas. Check the website for more details, tickets, special offers, and related events.