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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke
Tags >> personalities

R.I.P. Mike Cates

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Mike Cates and Renate Zoschke

<At left, Mike ferries Renate Zoschke 
around on his cooler train.

We have just learned of the passing of Mike Cates, which is another blow to Hot Shots, the company that lost their leader, Dave Lutes, late last year.  Mike worked for Dave for many years and was a familiar face every year at the National Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show.  We do not as yet have details about his passing, but it was unexpected.  Mike made a lot of friends at the show and would constantly entertain us with his antics.  He will be sorely missed.  Our condolences to his wife and family.


RIP Dave Lutes, 1950-2009

Posted by: Dave DeWitt


Dave LutesDave Lutes, owner of Hot Shots in Charlotte, North Carolina passed away on October 22, 2009 at the age of 59. Dave was born on June 3, 1950 in Dayton, Ohio. Dave and his wife Cathy founded Hot Shots, a fiery foods distribution company that ships products worldwide, in 1983. His longtime employee, Mike Cates, wrote to me: "A compassion for the industry and his fun nature and outgoing personality helped him grow the company into what it is today.  Big Dave fought his battle against pancreatic cancer with courage, passion and a positive mental attitude.  We'll miss you always, Big Dave."

Dave and his wife were longtime exhibitors in our National Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show, and Hot Shots will continue to exhibit with us.  Dave was a perfect customer—loyal, fun to talk to, never complained, and was always positive, as Mike pointed out.  After I was told Thursday, I could not sleep for many hours, thinking about him.

Harald Zoschke comments:
Many fiery-foods manufacturers and vendors that we know owe a good portion of their success to "Big Dave" and his Hots Shots business.  Early 1997, Renate and I moved to Florida for our hot sauce adventure.  We started with two sauce products and basically no one to sell them to.  Until we met Dave Lutes, that is. Dave helped us out with advice, and more importantly, he picked up our products and got us started, allowing us to develop and add more sauces, which he sold. When we started our retail hot shop on the St. Petersburg Pier, he also became a trusted supplier, and it stayed that way when we took our "hot" business to Germany in early 2001, until the very present. While traveling the U.S. last week, we had a chance to briefly talk to Dave. He was already very weak, yet the first thing he said to us was "thank you for the order" (which we placed had a week before). He tried to stay on top of things until the very end.  We met Dave almost every year  at the Fiery Food Show, and besides business, we always had a good time with him. His generosity and great sense of humor will be missed.  It is somewhat ironic that Dave was always very lucky when playing blackjack, and now life has handed him such a bad hand of cards.


On a Personal Note...

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Dexter Holland of The Offspring in concertI have been exchanging emails with chilehead Dexter Holland, lead singer of The Offspring, who just bought a copy of The Complete Chile Pepper Book. He writes, "Got the complete chile pepper book in the mail today...nice one! Looks great, very professional, very informative.  I might even try some growing now!"  I wrote back and suggested hydroponics under grow lights aboard his private jet!

I'll be off to the Bay Area November 10 for Round Two of Kingsford University.  I graduated a couple of summers ago when it was held in Arizona (see the article here), but apparently this one is graduate school.  Melanie Yunk of Melanie's Fine Foods will be a student with me and two of our instructors are the delightful Corinne Trang, author of
Noodles Every Day: Delicious Asian Recipes from Ramen to Rice Sticks,
Corinne Trang

and Chris Lilly, author of Big Bob Gibson BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint.  I shot this pic of him at the last Kingsford University class. Read all about him in this article.
Chris Lilly injecting a pork butt.
And finally, my hobnobbing with the stars continued a few weeks ago when I was a Green Chile Stew Cookoff judge during Navy Week at El Pinto.  I was rough work to be paired as a judge with KOAT-TV news anchor (and incredibly cute) Shelly Ribando, but somehow I survived.

Shelly Ribando and Dave DeWitt at El Pinto Restaurant


For those of you who missed it, here is a link to "Extreme Conventions" that ran on the Travel Channel, as posted on You Tube by a fan, not by us.  It's great publicity and I really appreciate it, but it only portrays the superhot component of the show, which in reality is a very, very small part of the show, which focuses on gourmet spicy products that won't burn you out.  My niece Emily complained that I was not given enough coverage, and my 21-minute interview was cut to 8 seconds, but hey, the program was not about me, as I'm not particularly extreme.  At left are the "German Chilli Police" with the folks from CaJohn's Fiery Foods.


Smoked Elk Ribs

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: smoking , personalities

My friend Chef Ethan Diness, who is a culinary instructor at Central New Mexico Community College, is also a barbecue aficionado who competes on the cookoff circuit.  A few days ago he asked if I would like some smoked elk ribs.  I only had to think about this for about a tenth of a second before I enthusiastically agreed.  They were absolutely delicious and I asked him for his method. 

Ethan responds here:

I was hired by the New Mexico MOTO-GUZZI riders club to cater an event this month.  As we discussed the menu details, the local state representative Matt Forslund and I talked about some elk Matt had at the time.  I chose a smoker full ribs and some venison.

I used my favorite off-set smoker which is well seasoned and started with half a charcoal chimney of lump-mesquite charcoal.  I then added my blend of woods to use : hickory, apple,and a small amount of plum wood.   After the smoker heated up to temp I added 9 racks of elk ribs which had my 5-X Rib Rub applied the night before.

I used a rib rack and smoked these racks for 4 hours at low heat, turning them each hour.  I then painted them with Weasel #9 sauce as the finish from the smoker.   I then gave them to Dave DeWitt and suggested he finish them at 190 F. in the oven for 3 hours in a small covered cooking vessel with beer added for moisture and flavor.  He did that but told me he ran out of beer and substituted a hearty red wine.

For information on : 5-X Rib Rub,OR Weasel #9 Sauce contact me via e-mail at asecondmeal@yahoo.com.


Wilbur Scoville invented the Scoville Organoleptic Test for measuring the heat in chile peppers while working for Parke-Davis pharmaceutical corporation in 1912 in Detroit.  But before then, he was a professor at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston.  A librarian at the Henrietta Benedictis Health Sciences Library at the College was kind enough to track down and scan this photo from an early yearbook at the request of Lee Robinson, a video producer for Jupiter Entertainment, who needed it for a new chile pepper documentary (or reality show--who knows?) he's working on.  Hats are off to Lee, who accomplished a feat that I could not pull off.  Chile pepper history is a little more complete now.  This photo is circa 1909.  For related stories, go here.


Melanie Covers Garlic Fest!

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

By Bay Area Correspondent Melanie Yunk

At the Gilroy Garlic Festival recently, Kent and I made our way through Gourmet Alley and all the various food booths to look for lunch. We found many incredible options: garlic artichokes (another popular local vegetable), stir-fry chicken, calamari, wild boar on a stick, garlic salmon, garlic hot wings and so much more. We finally settled on Louisiana Jambalaya, Beer-Battered Garlic Crab Fries, Roasted Corn on the Cob (with garlic, of course) and a sampling of a delicious paella from Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme Catering made on-site in their giant 4-foot pans.

Full and happy, we needed to move around to work off our lunch. Ice cold beers in hand, we meandered through the artists' booths and found many fun and creative crafts by artisans from all over the world.  

Michael Loffler from Seattle's Hatterdashery sat at his antique Singer sewing machine crafting his handmade garlic hats, a very popular item at this event.

The French Garlic Grater is a useful and beautiful little plate invented in France and produced in Spain. Malin and Dan of MalDan Industries demonstrated their product before a packed booth. Their plates cost $22 each and are available here.

The Woodkins' veggie, fruit and flower characters (including a chile pepper) are designed by Linda Lebedowicz and hand-carved by her husband. Linda travels throughout California, Nevada and Arizona selling her designs. These entertaining and reasonably priced carvings range in price from $15 to $50 and can be purchased on their website.  Our biggest surprise at the show was the framed Antique Seed Packets. These seed packets were hand-lithographed 100 years ago and were never actually used. They were discovered in a basement where they lived for 100 years, untouched. The packets depict the many varieties and colors of flowers and vegetables that are considered extinct today. Because of the lithographic process, the art under magnification is three-dimensional. Simply amazing and beautiful--and reasonably priced too.  They are available here.

And one of the most fun parts of the Festival was that I got to canoodle with celebrity chef Fabio!

By the end of the day, we left the Festival, full of garlic, beer, and memorable images from the Garlic Showdown. We're already plotting our trip to the 32nd annual event and can't wait for next year.

Flay was flayed in the Green Chile Cheeseburger Throwdown held at the Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio, New Mexico.  Flay flavored his cheeseburger not only with green chile, but wine vinegar, olive oil, "gourmet cheese" (whatever that is) and pickled onions.  The two judges, chile specialist Stephanie Walker from New Mexico State University and margarita expert Al Lucero, owner of Maria's Restaurant in Santa Fe, were not buying it.  They chose Bobby Olguin's burger over Flay's.  The story made the front page of the Albuquerque Journal on July 23 and the show will be repeated on the Food Network August 2.

Who makes the best Green Chile Cheeseburger, Bobby Flay or Bobby Olguin?  Or, maybe, just maybe, Gwyneth Doland and myself!  Tonight on the Food Network, on "Throwdown with Bobby Flay," Bobby Olguin of the Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio, New Mexico, goes up against Bobby Flay in a Green Chile Cheeseburger grill-off.  If you miss it, Food Network will repeat the show on August 2. That's Olguin on the left and Flay on the right.

In 2005, GQ Magazine rated the Buckhorn as having the seventh-best burger in America, so that gives some creds to Olguin, whose family has been doing this for many years. According to Olguin, his father, Mannie Olguin, built the Buckhorn in 1943. "Our liquor license dates back to 1918," he said. "It was transferred from my grandfather’s bar that used to be across the street."

While celebs like Flay get most of the attention, the Fiery Foods team just never gives up.  Click here to watch Gwyneth and myself grill Green Chile Cheeseburgers.  And click here for Gwyn's not-so-secret recipe.

Photo Credits:  Top, J. Clarson; Right, Sergio Salvador



10 tons of beef ... 4 tons of pasta ... 4 tons of calamari ... 2 tons of scampi ... plus 2 tons of fresh Christopher Ranch garlic ...More information here.

WHO Gilroy Garlic Festival

WHAT The 31st Annual "Ultimate Summer Food Fair"; three days of incredible food, arts and crafts, live entertainment, and cooking demonstrations.

WHERE Christmas Hill Park, Gilroy CA

30 miles south of San Jose off Highway 101


WHEN Friday, Saturday and Sunday
July 24 - 25 - 26, 2009 - always the last FULL weekend in July
Hours - 10:00am to 7:00pm with gates closing at 6:00pm each day

HOW Tickets -

Adult General Admission $12, Children (ages 6-12) $6 (under 6 - free), Seniors (60+) $6

Tickets: one per person, per each day attending.

Cash only is accepted at the gate. ATMs are available at most gates.

Advance tickets available online after June 1st at tickets.gilroygarlicfestival.com


The festival is held in a park. It is all outdoors with mostly turf and some compact dirt and asphalt walkways. There are natural shade trees, and many shade tents with tables and benches.

The admission price includes parking, musical entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and a children's area. Festival guests purchase food and beverages from the vendors. Prices range from $2 to $12 depending on the item, which is a full-size serving, not a sample.

Lodging, camping, and RV sites: www.gilroyvisitor.org

Parking is Free with a shuttle running from the parking lot to festival grounds.

Free secure bicycle parking is available on Miller Ave. at Yorktown Dr. just 1/2 block north of the levee.

Public transportation: www.vta.org

Gilroy is serviced Monday through Friday by CalTrain Commuter Service only. The train leaves Gilroy in the morning and does not return until the evening.

The Garlic Express Train sponsored by the Golden Gate Railroad Museum will not run in 2009.

General Aviators - If flying in to the area:
South County Airport, (E16)
13025 Murphy Ave., San Martin, CA 95046
(408) 683-4102 www.magnumaviation.com

For your comfort:
Wear comfortable shoes - walking on lawn, compact dirt, and asphalt.
Dress in layers - mornings could be foggy, afternoons are sunny.
Sport hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen - there's lots of garlic sunshine.

Handicapped and disabled access:
The parking lot is a graded agricultural field. Ask the lot attendant for directions to handicap parking. From there, guests will be shuttled to and from the gate. The festival grounds are mostly lawn, compact dirt, and asphalt. There are handicap restroom facilities in the parking lot and at the many restroom areas throughout the park. There are many shade tents with tables and benches throughout the festival grounds.

Please remember: Shirt and shoes are required.

Christmas Hill Park rules prohibit bringing the following items on Festival grounds:
◦ Alcohol of any kind
◦ Bottles, glass and cans
◦ Coolers - large or small
◦ Frisbees and water projecting devises
◦ Pocket knives and weapons of any kind.
If you bring any of these items listed above, leave them locked in your car.

Please be advised that the City of Gilroy park rules prohibit dogs and other animals from being brought into the park, except Guide Dogs, Seeing Eye Dogs & Service Dogs.

There are no kennel facilities available at the park.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival is a celebration of food, fun and family. It is the Garlic Festival's policy to provide a safe, family-friendly atmosphere for all Festival patrons and volunteers. Therefore, the Garlic Festival refuses entry or admission to anyone wearing clothing or paraphernalia indicating or signifying membership in a gang, including a motorcycle club. This policy is applied equally to all persons, regardless of their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability or medical condition.

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