IT may not have been the hottest day of the year, but contestants at the Foodies Festival chilli-eating competition were certainly sweating.
On Saturday nine people took part in the contest, staged by Wiltshire Chilli Farm, at the festival in South Park.
They were given progressively hotter chilli peppers – as rated by the internationally-recognised Scoville scale – and had to eat them whole.
Those who drank their soothing glass of milk were knocked out of the contest.
Ewan Cameron, 33, came sixth after vomiting up his red habanero pepper.
The engineer, from Aberdeen, said: “I was doing all right. I’ve done hotter but my gag reflex couldn’t keep it down.”
In the chilli-eating contest, Lee Simmonds has to stop as, back from left, eventual joint winners Magda Clarke and Hasneen Karbalai look on
Returning champion Lee Simmonds – who was taking part in the contest for the fourth time – came in third after eating the Bedfordshire Super Naga.
It was an unprecedented outcome for the competition, as Hasneen Karbalai, 37, and Megda Clarke, 31, agreed to a tie rather than attempt to eat a dried Bedfordshire Super Naga.
Miss Clarke, a youth hostel worker from Oxford, added: “My throat and my stomach hurt so much. I would not recommend this to anyone.”
They both received a prize of chilli sauces, ales and limited- edition crisps.
Wiltshire Chilli Farm owner Martin Bond said: “That was one of the most impressive contests we’ve done.
“I ran out of fresh chillis to give them. When Lee took part before, he won on a Madame Jeanette. He’d never had to eat the nagas before.”
Oxford Foodies Festival was launched by participating celebrity chef Alex Mackay who sugar-coated the dreaming spires and juggled eggs in South Park
As well as the contest, the Foodie Festival had dozens of stalls, cooking demonstrations and drink-tasting sessions.
Barry Murdoch ran the stall for smoked trout company RR Spink & Sons, which supplies the Queen with her Scottish fish.
He said: “We want people to relook at trout.
“The world is full of salmon but we want to educate the world on how great trout is for smoking.
“We have loads of people who come over saying they don’t like trout and then try a bit and change their minds.”
Ava Hughes, eight, is handed a fresh smoothie from Edward Clifford of Squeeze Juice Bars
Gourmet sausage roll company Pig in the Middle also had a stall, run by Judith MacFarlane.
She said: “Generally speaking we do quite well in Oxford.
“We’re based in Leamington Spa, so we come most Thursdays to do the market in Gloucester Green as well.
“We’ve had a few local people visit our stall here who already know us.”
Victoria Fields, 23, and Kate Boys, 26, tuck in
One of the organisers of the festival, which travels around the country, was Rebecca Hitchen.
She said: “Oxford has more of a local feel about it, which is great for our market stallholders because people who come are really passionate about food and the quality of it. The chilli contest this year was great fun. I just love it when super-tough guys get bested by the ladies.”
- The Oxford Wine Festival is set to return for a second year after an estimated 2,000 wine lovers descended on the Oxford Union over the weekend for its inaugural event. Festival organiser Chris Bowling said: “It has gone amazingly well. There’s been a lovely atmosphere more than anything else.”
HOW VARIETIES MEASURE UP WITH HEAT RATING
Chillies - Scoville scale rating
- Jalapeno 8,000
- Fresno 10,000
- Red habanero 100,000
- Scotch bonnet 325,000
- Madame Jeanette 350,000
- Naga 855,000
- Green naga 855,000
- Dorset naga 923,000
- Peach ghost 1,040,000
- Bedfordshire Super Naga 1,400,000
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