Get ready to spice up your life because Salt Lake City is about to turn up the heat.
Sauce Lake City, the sizzling hot sauce festival, is back for its second year and is now hotter than ever. The reason? It’s completely free to attend. Max Born, the owner of Chili Beak and host of the festival, said he wants to keep costs low so more people can enjoy what the vendors offer.
“It was part of our long-term vision originally,” said Born, “because we don’t want to generate income off of ticket sales and the attendees. We want to make it a rich content event for our vendors so they have access to as many customers who can come by.”
This year’s event, which takes place Oct. 7, moves from the Fairpark to a new location in Salt Lake City’s northern Ballpark neighborhood, Block Party 300, 1391 S 300 W.
“We actually just changed our venue,” said Born, “and now that we’ve done that, I have a lot higher hopes for bringing in at least 1,500 people, if not 2,000 or so.”
All those attendees will be able to sample the capsaicin offerings from Red Rock Salsa, Salsa Queen, Burn Your Tongue, Erlinda’s Authentic Salsa, Bear River Bottling, Natures Fiesta and Tongue Spank, Sauced Up Salsa, as well as Chili Beak. Arete Gelato will be on hand as well to cool your burning palate. Plus, there will be food trucks, music, free samples and a spicy challenge to see just how much heat you can tolerate.
Born, however, is looking to make Sauce Lake City more than just a hot sauce festival. He wants it to help foster a growing community of Scoville-scale devotees.
“We’re really on this long-term vision to build up our own incubator system that helps smaller food companies to leverage their resources and pool in together because I know how hard it is for a small startup food company myself,” he said. “After doing it for the last four years, helping others has always been my mission.”
According to Born, Utah is uniquely positioned to be a leader in hot sauce because of the ideal environment here to grow peppers.
“Just in general, the hot sauce industry of the last several years has been booming,” said Born. “There’s a lot of ma and pa hobby hot sauce makers coming out of the woodwork.”
“We work with Wasatch Community Gardens. They’ve been our nonprofit partner in the past, and they contract with several local, smaller, urban farms and help provide training and education to people.”
The partnership has paid off, according to Born.
“A lot of those farmers now are realizing that peppers are a really great startup farming crop because people buy these super hot hobby peppers like Carolina reapers and scorpions and dragon’s breath and ghosts. They’ll pay, like, $20+ a pound for these things to make their hobby sauces. And larger food companies, such as Chili Beak, have to source these peppers from somewhere. We like to get as many local peppers as we can.”
As Sauce Lake City continues to grow and blaze a trail in the spicy world of hot sauces, Max Born’s vision of a close-knit, supportive community of heat aficionados becomes increasingly tangible. So mark your calendars because Salt Lake City is turning up the heat on October 7, and you won’t want to miss it.
Sauce Lake City, Oct. 7 at Block Party 300, 1391 S 300 W, Salt Lake City. The event is free. For more information, visit saucelakecity.com.