Hot Sauce Helps Oceans

Tuesday September 12, 2023

HAMPTON, NH – New England Hot Sauce Fest weathered the threat of storms this summer to raise more than $12,000 to help environmental groups’ fight to protect New England’s seacoast and ocean.
The festival, produced by Gabe DiSaverio, owner of the Spicy Shark sauces and foods in Portland, NH, is only in its second year, but drew 2,400 spice seekers to the Smuttynose Brewery here. On July 29, more than 35 hot sauce companies showcased their spiciest products to festival goers who savored diverse culinary dishes.
For next year, the festival has room to grow. The expanded field behind the brewery, where the festival was held, can now accommodate 4,200 people, DiSaverio said.
Heat 101’s radio personalities, Bella and Dark, served as masters of ceremony for the event.
The festival highlight was the Pepper-X Duel Chip Challenging, featuring five hot sauce celebs locked in a spicy showdown. Onstage, Kris Fragale (aka: The Scoville Unit), set a new world record by devouring 163 Pepper X Duel Chips in one hour. These chips, fueled by the world’s hottest pepper, Pepper X, left everyone astonished, DiSaverio said.
In addition to food trucks serving spicy dishes as 1980s-style music played, contestants competed in several food-eating challenges, including pepper eating and a fiery hot-wing battle. Children enjoyed bouncy houses and face painting in an array of family-friendly activities.
Smuttynose Brewery’s award-winning beer flowed from the on-site brewery. Other local sponsors, including Bangor Savings Bank, The City Beverage, Coca-Cola, Great Island Realty and Port City Veterinary Referral Hospital.
The one-day festival donated $6,237 each to the Portsmouth-based Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation and the Seacoast Science Center, organizations dedicated to safeguarding the ocean for future generations.
“We’re so grateful to have been a part of this hugely successful event,” said Blue Ocean’s executive director Jen Kennedy. “As we have learned all too well in recent years, a healthy ocean is important for us all to thrive. The funds raised will support our ocean conservation programs here in the Seacoast.”
Blue Ocean Society is a nonprofit organization that works to protect marine life in the Gulf of Maine.
Seacoast Science Center is a non-profit coastal and marine science education institution in Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, NH.
“We are honored to have been part of this fantastic event that helped shine a light on the importance of ocean health and marine wildlife conservation,” said Karen Provazza, chief communications officer at Seacoast Science Center. “The funds will help us expand our educational reach and fulfill our mission to inspire conservation of our Blue Planet. We’ve marked our calendars for next year’s event and hope to see you there.”
A fan of the movie Jaws since childhood, DiSaverio wants people to experience great hot sauce. Using some recipes from his New Jersey family, he opened The Spicy Shark and, as he describes it, “the feeding frenzy began in February 2019.”
DiSaverio launched the Hot Fest because there was no such festival in New England. Promoting his Spicy Shark craft sauces and condiments, he had attended hot food festivals across the country and was surprised that there was not a hot food festival in New England. The festival is designed to promote Northeast spicy food vendors and raise money to protect his beloved sharks.
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