For serious chile-heads, a hot sauce festival in Long Beach

Hot sauce expo

The first annual California Hot Sauce Expo is happening in Long Beach in July. 

(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Peppery, spicy, intense, smoky, nuanced — these are descriptions of a truly great hot sauce. And for those of us who splash it on everything from salads to eggs and lasagna, a good hot sauce is more than just a condiment, it’s a necessity.

Now imagine sampling 45 varieties in one afternoon. 

The first annual California Hot Sauce Expo is happening in Long Beach July 11 and 12. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., 45 hot sauce proprietors will be at the expo, offering samples of their fiery concoctions.

So toughen up and get your tongue ready — because there’s absolutely no crying in baseball, or at a hot sauce expo.


Los Angeles-based El Machete hot sauce company, along with Hella Hot Hot Sauce, 9 Circle of Hell Small Batch Chile, Overkill Hot Sauce, Puckerbutt Pepper Company, Sauce Goddess and more, are all planning on bringing enough hot sauce to singe your lips. 

In between hot sauce tastings, there will be multiple eating challenges, including the Carolina Reaper pepper challenge, taco eating, chicken wing eating and Cup of Noodles eating. (We’re a little fuzzy on the details of that one.)

There will also be a guacamole-making challenge, salsa-making, hot sauce-making and a Stoli Vodka Bloody Mary mix competition and a margarita mix competition. 

General admission to the hot sauce expo is $10 if purchased in advance online, or $15 purchased the day of. If you want to drink craft beer with your hot sauces, you can purchase a $50 craft brew package, which includes six drink tokens, a bottle of hot sauce and a hot sauce expo shirt. VIP tickets ($100) will have an exclusive area for cocktail tastings, food pairings, craft beers and more.


Rainbow Lagoon, East Shoreline Drive, Long Beach.

I’m not a chile-head, but I’m far from a wimp. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Jenn_Harris_ 

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