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Local deputies host cookoff for causes

Pitchess hosts fundraiser for various charities

Posted: June 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Custody Assistant Roxanna Chavez, left, handcuffs L.A. County sheriff’s Deputy Jason Zabala as part of a fundraising prank for charity at the inaugural Stars and Stripes Barbecue and Salsa Showdown event held at Pitchess Detention Center’s Jack Bones Equestrian Center in Castaic on Saturday.

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The inaugural Stars and Stripes Barbecue and Salsa Showdown wasn’t just hot, hot, hot — it was hot, regular hot and burning hot.

Scores of salsa samplings from mild to “record-breaking” hot were handed out in Castaic on Saturday at the cookoff sponsored by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“No two salsas tasted similar,” said Miss Teen Santa Clarita Aurora Albi-Mercier, who served as one of at least a half-dozen salsa-sampling judges.

She and Miss Teen Santa Clarita Valley First Princess Natalie Kaiser, in their tiaras and sashes, both confessing a preference for mild salsa, chose a sweet mango-flavored recipe as their favorite.

“There was one that was so incredibly hot I had to run and grab my water bottle,” Kaiser said.

On a scale of “one to 10” hotness, Albi-Mercier gave it a “12.”

The cookoff, held at the Pitchess Detention Center’s Jack Bones Equestrian Center on Tapia Canyon Road, was a fundraiser to help the United States military, public safety and children’s charities.

There were vendors selling handbags and backpacks, bracelets made in Guatemala and lots and lots of barbecued food sold at booths, including: the Man Cave BBQ; the Our Place Bar-B-Que promoting “authentic Texas-style BBQ”; Palmdale  Fire Station No. 26; and Wild Willy’s Salsa Company.

“I make the hottest salsa in the world,” said Tom “Wild Willy” Williams, of Lancaster, pointing to an ingredient listed on his salsa bottle, which he said is listed in the 2006 Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest chilli pepper on the planet.

Those wanting proof of Wild Willy’s claim were handed a tortilla chip topped with bhut jolokia salsa from a bottle marked Jolokia-IV, which, according to Williams, represents a “four-pepper” label warning.

“That’s about 6 million Scoville heat units,” he said, referring to the scale measuring chili peppers’ spiciness.
Williams makes seven varieties of salsa, however, from mild to “record-breaking” hot, each one of them all natural with no preservatives, no sugar, no salt.

His most popular brand of salsa is the “moderately hot” version, he calls “America’s Ultimate Salsa.”

Mild, apparently, is where most cookoff salsa-samplers place themselves.

Oscar and Cristina Cordova, of the San Fernando Valley, sampled salsa at the Man Cave BBQ.

“It’s great, delicious, hot,” Christina Cordova said, giving it a hot rating of “seven out of 10.”

Her husband, however, gave it a six out of 10.

That was before they made their way to the far end of the cookoff and to Wild Willy’s Salsa booth and Wild Willy’s Jolokia-IV.



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