I have talked often of my love for very spicy food. I like to eat things so chili-hot that my eyes water and I get a sort of sparkly endorphin rush. I don’t like heat for heat’s sake, though, so the dish itself has to be delicious and well made, and the chilies need to enhance rather than obscure the flavors within. You aren’t going to see me judging jalapeno eating contests any time soon. I’d much rather be slurping up Thai noodles and curries at Chiang Mai.
I was on a judging panel for the Orpheum’s annual “Celebrity and Chef Cook-off” a few days ago. I have graduated from contestant to judge in the last few years, and I have to say that judging is no less stressful, but it is less sweaty, and I smell better when it’s all over. As a general rule, I dislike cooking competitions, particularly the ones on TV, but the live ones are exciting, with ingredients flying around, and the smell and sizzle and quiet cursing just adding to the party.