COULD you handle the heat to be crowned the chilli champion?

Chilli Fest is returning to Walton Gardens on Saturday and Sunday and for the first time organiser Alexander Mustang is also bringing the ‘Clash of the Titans’ chilli eating competition to Warrington. The contest will pit chilli enthusiasts against each other in a battle of wills.

Alexander, who runs Chilli Fest in 20 venues around the UK, said: “We’ll be recruiting about 10 souls to take part in this competition and they start off with the bird’s eye chilli and work their way up to the super-hot nagas.

“It’s a case of eliminating people one by one then the last man or woman standing is the Chilli Titan Champion.”

Drinking water, milk or any other liquid with the chillies is forbidden and competitors even have to sign a waiver to take part. But if you are feeling brave it is free and you just sign up for it on the day. The contest will take place at about 3.30pm on each day.

Alexander added: “It’s just for fun. It’s not a death match although it does sound like it’s gladiators in a ring.

“Those who are avid about chilli take it really seriously. It really is quite amazing to watch the reactions. Some of them are novices who don’t know what they’re in for then some of them are connoisseurs and they eat chillies in same way you might drink wine.

“I’m trying to promote my own chilli products along with the other producers as well.

“But I also get to observe these characters and how they transform themselves.”

Those taking part have to eat each chilli down to the stalk, chew for around 10 seconds and keep it down.

If swear you are disqualified – but any other expressions of suffering are accepted.

Alexander, whose own limit is a Scotch bonnet chilli, said: “You’re allowed to scream, you’re allowed to shake, you’re allowed to call for your mummy, you’re allowed to cry and believe me there is a lot of crying.

“Some people look like they’re being tasered because they’re shaking and their face is all red

“They’re fighting really hard for this prize of a T-shirt.

“There are some who can handle no chillies, there are some people who can tolerate a lot of heat and there are some where even if you threw them in a volcano it’d be a walk in the park. We’ve met people like that.”

Chilli Fest, a not-for-profit event supported by Warrington Borough Council, will also feature a range of products made from chillies of all heat levels from jalapenos to Carolina reapers, the Guinness World Record certified hottest chilli in the world. There will be around 20 exhibitors, some from as far as Holland, selling the likes of chilli sauces, chilli cheese and chilli chocolate and there will even be a chilli themed bar selling mojitos, beers and ciders with an extra kick.

Alexander added: “They’re like chemists concocting more or more ideas to make products milder or extremely hot.

“We’ve got the likes of Thunder Road who create a sauce called Colossus which is one of the hottest around.

“It’s made with pure Carolina reaper which is the hottest chilli in the world. When people come to our events they’re not coming just for fun. Fun is kind of secondary. They’re actually coming to suffer pain.”

Alexander said Britain has a global reputation for its love of fiery foods.

He said: “I’ve got friends in India and they occasionally say to me: ‘Are you guys ok?’

“If you look at the palate of the English it’s quite bland in comparison to other countries.

“So when these spices came over it became like Aladdin’s cave of flavours.

“Out of that I think people’s imaginations have exploded. We now take anything and somehow fuse it with spices to make it more palatable or more exciting.

“I think this country is quite adventurous in that respect because we have so many cultures fused into one pot.

“That’s why Chilli Fest UK came about. We wanted to bring together all these like-minded nutcases.”

Alexander came up with the concept for Chilli Fest when a friend, who worked as an events coordinator, was looking for ideas to boost the local economy in Shoreham-by-Sea. The first event was held in 2011.

Cllr Tony Higgins, executive board member responsible for Walton Hall, said: "Walton Hall estate is our jewel in the crown and righty so.

"As the lead member responsible for Walton Hall I'm immensely proud of the investment and support we are committing to its development and the fact the Heritage Lottery have also made that same commitment further proves that Walton Hall is the place to host large events such as the Chilli Fest, this being its third year here .

"Hosting national events such as this further proves that Walton Hall and Warrington is the place to do business.

"This is a free event with more than 20 stalls so get down to Walton Hall and try out the latest chilli recipes...if you are brave enough."

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