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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke

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.

 


Rare 'Trinidad Scorpions'

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: gardening , chile varieties

 

Trinidad Scorpions on a pepper plate.Hydroponic Grower Jim Duffy reports from San Diego: "Well I have to say, Dave, that my 'Trinidad Scorpion' crop was not the amount I wanted to produce. But sometimes you have to look at the silver lining. The 'Trinidad Scorpion' is a rare chile all by itself. Very few supply seeds and only this year did more than just a few people grow it here in the good old U.S.A. So when one of my potted plants produced a yellow pod, I was excited. This plant is an isolated plant and yellow Scorpions would be nice to have in my seed bank. But it was the only yellow pod the plant produced. Then I started seeing more pods turning yellowish. And then it happened. Every pod on that plant except the first yellow one were turning bright orange! Now I have heard that there is an orange Scorpion but never found a pic on the Web. Now my entire plant was going from green to orange. Not one red pod to be found. Sad to say the plant is dying but most pods will turn before I pull it up. So here is a treat for your readers. A pic of red, yellow and orange 'Trinindad Scorpions' all together! No Scorpion bumper crop this year, but I will take one rare plant over 50 common ones any day!"

I never saw this variety during my two trips to Trinidad, where the 'Congo Pepper' is so dominant, for good reason: its extreme heat and extreme size.  Look at this one in Mary Jane's hand.  When I cut it open to get the seeds, the fumes drove us out of our room at the Kapok Hotel in Port of  Spain!
Congo Pepper in Trinidad

 


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


shocking peppersLately the Internet has come alive with images of pepper pods that transcend the bounds of common decency.  Some unscrupulous people are actually posting them in their blogs to drive more traffic!  Imagine!  John Perea of Hot Rod Pickles (yes, a real company name) sent me the image to the left of a tumescent pod that I call "Horny Jalapeño."  Then there are the images of the pods that women love the most, the infamous 'Peter Peppers', and they are flushed red with excitement.  Notice that they are in the hands of a person of the male persuasion.  I'm not sure if that's gay or not.  And finally, my very own co-author and close friend, Dr. Paul Boland, a highly decorated Regent's Professor at New Mexico State University, insisted, over my vehement protests, that we publish a photo of an immature--but precocious--'Peter Pepper' in our new tome, The Complete Chile Pepper Book. The world is going to hell in a garden basket!

 


New Ideas with Barbecue

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Yes, barbecue has a great historical tradition and many BBQ cooks use techniques several hundred years old.  That said, you can't keep restaurateurs from experimenting.  Here's what innovative restaurant chefs are doing with barbecue these days.

BBQ Omelet ($9.50): Slow-roasted pulled pork and smoked Gouda cheese folded into an omelet.
--Old Vine Cafe, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Pulled Rib and Brisket Chili ($5.95): Award-winning chili with beef and pork, loaded with sour cream, Cheddar cheese, onions and jalapeños.
BBQ Quesadilla ($9.95): Tortilla stuffed with chopped brisket, pulled pork or chicken, with peppers, onion, Cheddar cheese, Memphis sauce, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo.
--Old Glory Bar-B-Que, Washington, D.C.

BBQ Spring Rolls ($7.95): Rolled chopped barbecue served with chili glaze.
The North 40 Salad ($9.95): Brisket, Jack cheese, bacon and mesclun greens.
--Jake’s Dixie Roadhouse, Waltham, Mass.

Dixie Chips ($6.95): Tri-color tortilla chips with pulled pork spiced with a blend of chili seasonings and mixed with black beans, corn, barley and tomatoes. Salsa, jalapeños, sour cream and Cheddar cheese top it off.
Bar-B-Q Rueben ($7.50): A traditional Reuben sandwich with a twist: smoked corned beef.
--One-Eyed Jacks Mokehouse Grill, Lockport, N.Y.

Brisket Chowder ($2.99): Slow-cooked brisket, potatoes, green onions and sour cream.
--Brisket Basket, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Lone Spur Pasta ($11.50): Smoked chicken or Cajun shrimp with penne pasta and fajita vegetables in chipotle-Alfredo sauce; served with Texas toast.
--Lone Spur Grill and Bar, Minnetonka, Minn.

Rattler’s Minis ($6.99): Barbecued meatballs or barbecued tri-tip on a freshly baked roll.
--Rattler’s Bar B Que, Santa Clarita, Calif.

Pig Skins ($6.99): Four half potato skins filled with pulled pork, cheese and jalapeños with a side of  barbecue sauce.
--Hog Heaven Open Flame BBQ, multiple locations

BBQ Nachos ($9.95): A huge portion of fresh tortilla chips topped with BBQ beans, Cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, sour cream, guacamole and house-made pico de gallo.
--Southern Hospitality, New York City

Toasted Ravioli “St. Louis Style” ($11.95): ravioli with braised pork and smoked-tomato sauce.
--Blue Smoke, New York City


What Do You Believe About Food?

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: science , food trends , controversy , books

Do You Believe Any of the Following Statements? 1. The "locavore" movement (shopping and eating locally) is a good practice. 2. Shortening food miles (the distance your food travels) helps the environment. 3. Organic gardening and farming techniques are superior to traditional methods. 4. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are inherently evil. 5. Eating meat is a perfectly acceptable practice.

If you do believe any of them, you may be totally wrong and all of these statements are completely false, according to James E. McWilliams, author of a new book entitled Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly. This is a shocking book because it rationally explores and deconstructs all the objections to popular ideas about what constitutes a healthy and ethical diet.  McWilliams, an associate professor at Texas State University and the author of A Revolution in Eating, the best food history of U.S. colonial and post-colonial food, goes way, way out on a limb here, and in an email last week I told him to watch his back because of the backlash of true believers in the above statement.  I think he makes excellent arguments and that the other side of the story should be told.  That said, this book is not easy reading--you have to pay close attention, have an open mind, and be something of a skeptic yourself.  I would like to hear comments--but only from people who have actually read the book.  You can buy the book here.


 

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.

 


Here's an excerpt from my new book with Dr. Paul Bosland, The Complete Chile Pepper Book. The book is hardcover, 336 pages, 250 full-color photos, 85 recipes (with food shots).  Is is organized like this:
--About Chiles
--Top 100 (or so) Chiles for the Garden
--Capsicum Cultivation
--Processing and Preservation
--Cooking with Chiles

If you want a signed copy, buy the book here then send me a stamped, self-addressed envelope along with your name and dedication, and I will sign a faceplate for you that you can stick into the front of the book.
Dave DeWitt
P.O. Box 4980
Albuquerque, NM 87196

 


 

 

Yes, they eat chiles in Finland.  My friend Jukka Kilpinnen has reported on his his bonzai chile plants in Finland, and there's a Finnish Chile Association.  They recently conducted their Chile-Eating Championship that featured the deadly 'Naga Morich', a cousin to the 'Bhut Jolokia'.  Read all about it here!

 

 


The Amazing, Disposable, EZ Grill

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: grilling

 

I've tried many of the small grills like hibachis and Cobbs and they work fine, but still you have to dispose of the ash, clean them out, pack them up, and carry them home from the beach, picnic, campground, tailgating headquarters, or garden party (remember the Rick Nelson song?)  But with the EZ Grill it's a no- brainer because you just put out the coals with water, sand, or dirt, and then throw it in the trash.  It's called a single-use grill, and these have gained a 50% share of the charcoal grill market in Australia and the U.K.  It gets 90 minutes of cooking time and is in 13,000 stores in the U.S., including 7-Elevens.  They come in a regular size with four of $19.99 or a party size of two for $19.99.  You can find retail locations or order online here.

 


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