Painful victory for Brighton’s new chilli eating champions

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Brave contestants battled it out to be crowned chilli king or queen at the Fiery Foods chilli eating competition last Sunday. Brighton’s hottest and most painful contest saw four-time chilli champ Andy ‘The Hat’ White, 62, regain his title after losing out to Martin Gill at the last competition, held in 2013.

But Mr White didn’t enjoy an overall number one place, as the competition ended in a draw with Lee Alton. The two men battled it out for first place but neither was prepared to throw in the towel, so to save a trip to hospital the emcee called it a draw.

Nicknamed ‘Eminem’ by the audience because of a faint resemblance to the American rap star, Mr Alton had travelled from Portsmouth especially for the competition. He was clearly pleased about his rise from 4th in the last competition to joint first place, and so were his family as they embraced him after his victory. When asked why he entered the competition, Mr Alton said: “I love eating hot stuff so thought I’d give it a go. I’m off home now to have a curry.”

Contestants munched their way through round after round of fiery, pain inducing chillies, which this year included jalapeños, scotch bonnets, habaneros, naga ghost, Trinidad scorpion, and the eye watering Carolina reaper.

Chillies are rated for pungency on the Scoville scale of heat. The comparatively mild jalapeño measures 3,500 – 8,000 Scoville units, whilst on the Trinidad scorpion and Carolina reaper notch up to 1,200,000 – 2,200,000 units.

This year’s competition saw 11 contestants put their pain threshold to the test, and battle their way through fourteen fiery rounds to claim first place prize of £50 plus a trophy. Each competitor is given a set of chilli condiments for taking part. Once they bow out they are checked over by medics, who advise them to induce vomiting to rid the stomach of the offending articles, and given cold milk and yoghurt to tame the fire.

The contest was part of the ‘Brighton Fiery Foods UK Chilli Festival’, set up in 2005 by the late Pete Seymour, also known as ‘Chilli Pepper Pete’. His wife Miranda Pellew continues her husband’s legacy, taking control of the festival since she lost him to cancer in 2012. The festival also plays host to the National Chilli Awards, celebrating the best food and drink produced by the UK chilli industry.

Words by Natalie Heath

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