Sriracha lovers united for the first-ever Sriracha Festival on Sunday in downtown Los Angeles. They came in droves with a line wrapping around the long city block outside Lot 163, where participants came armed with cameras, dressed in red T-shirts, and one, wrapped in a full Sriracha bottle costume.
Melissa Joves from Cerritos made her own costume by wearing a red sriracha shirt with a rooster on it, red pants, red tennis shoes and a green hat. Wearing sunglasses and a smile, she peered out of the green head piece and proudly grasped her new copy of "The Veggie Lover's Sriracha Cookbook."
"I eat it like it's the new ketchup," Joves said of her love of Sriracha. "My friends know I love it and I got so many texts on my phone telling me about the festival."
Joves and about 800 other Sriracha fans packed the east downtown venue for the festival put on by Food GPS and Randy Clemens, author of "The Sriracha Cookbook." There was a large outdoor area and two indoor areas, with one sectioned off with picnic benches for VIPs and a DJ. Food vendors made dishes including ice cream and popcorn with the fiery ingredient.
Some of the lines for the food vendors were 20 people deep and by 4 p.m., an hour after the festival started, people were elbow to elbow and it was hard to move around. One of the crowd favorites was a mini pork bun made by Ernesto Uchimura of Plan Check Kitchen & Bar. Uchimura layered a pork belly patty, his famous Sriracha leather, a Sriracha pickle, fried garlic, cilantro and a fish sauce spread on one of his homemade crunch buns. He also draped his Sriracha leather on top of his menu board and piled it high in bowls for people to try by itself.
People also lined up for Neal Fraser (BLD and Fritzi Dog) at his Fritzi Dog booth for a Sriracha-covered dog. Fraser took a Fritzi dog and topped it with Sriracha ketchup and Sriracha potato chips he made by dehydrating Sriracha, pulverizing it, then seasoning fresh chips with the hot sauce crumbs.
For dessert, Tai Kim of Scoops dished out scoops of his coconut lemon grass and burnt sugar ice cream and mango Sriracha sorbet. And for a twist on the classic caramel apple, John Vu Cao and Chloe Tran of East Borough topped theirs with some pink sriracha sea salt.
"I grew up eating Sriracha with apples," said Tran.
Sriracha even made an appearance in the cocktails. Matthew Biancaniello, the man behind the libations at Plan Check, created a cocktail with natto-infused TRU organic gin, passion fruit, fresh Long Island Cheese pumpkin juice and homemade sriracha and topped with a Chareau aloe liqueur foam. Los Angeles Ale Works made a virgin drink with pineapple citrus ginger soda and Sriracha.
Festival attendee Clair Phillips, who donned a frayed Sriracha shirt, loves what she calls the "cock" sauce, which she named after the rooster on many of the bottles. She dressed up as a Sriracha bottle for Halloween last year and many friends messaged her to tell her about the festival.
"We loved it was the first of its kind, and we're so happy to be a part of the beginning of it," said Phillips.
Love to put sriracha on everything...including your breakfast? Me too. Follow me on Twitter: @Jenn_Harris_
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