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All TCU. All the time.

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The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of 28!
The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of '28!
By Georgie London, Staff Writer
Published May 13, 2024
Advice from your fellow Frogs, explore Fort Worth, pizza reviews and more. 

Festival to offer spicy, ‘zesty’ tastes for Fort Worth food connoisseurs

Festival to offer spicy, zesty tastes for Fort Worth food connoisseurs

The annual fall food celebration, ZestFest, hosted by Chile Pepper Magazine, will challenge Fort Worth’s tastebuds and stomachs. It is designed to give bold and flavorful food enthusiasts the opportunity to sample fiery tastes ranging from salsas to chutneys and candies. The festival enables chefs to exhibit their new products to potential buyers.

Prepping for the event is a yearlong process during which Chile Pepper Magazine investigates which exhibitors will attend and observes what new hot products vendors can offer. The magazine does this by going to other shows and promising restaurants throughout the year. Gretchen VanEsselstyn , editor-in-chief of Chile Pepper Magazine, said one of the things to look forward to for this year is the Jalape¤o Eating Contest scheduled for Sunday at 3 p.m.

The chef line-up includes Fort Worth Chef Grady Spears of Dutch’s Hamburgers and chefs from H3 Ranch, Bonnell’s Restaurant and Central Market. Other non-local chefs will be attending ZestFest. Spears, an active participant for four years now, said some of the products at the spicy convention are so outrageously hot that they are impossible to eat.

Festivities began Thursday during the Burger Bash, where several area chefs faced off in a battle of the buns. Participants can experience Spears’ food in a different ambiance from his new hamburger joint, Dutch’s. Other ZestFest chefs in attendance were there to offer their opinions of the burgers and hand out their own samples.

Mary of Puddin Hill, a country-style store, is returning this year. Last year, the store entered one product: Habanero Peanut Brittle, which was voted best overall product and the Golden Chile Winner. This year, Ken Dane from the Puddin Hill store, said the winner would be returning with their Fiery Texas Snowball. The balls are coated with dark chocolate tricking the consumer into not tasting the spicy flavor until he swallows at which point, Dane said, the spicy sensation will hit “further back in your throat.”

ZestFest will also be full of live music, contests, awards and as VanEsselstyn said, “It’s really fun, people really eat their brains out.

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