Meet the Cast‎ > ‎2013‎ > ‎

Chili Pepper Extravaganza - New Orleans - September 2013

Captain Thom - An avid fisherman, cook and hot sauce creator. He was raised on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and loves everything about the bay and ocean. Hot sauce, spices and cooking are right up there on his list of life efforts. He started in the herb and spice business in 1978 in a small historic town called Ellicott City, Maryland and is still in that business today, only now it includes all thing hot and spice. His love of cooking as it seems has always been there from the time he was a small boy standing on a chair, stirring pots in his grandmother’s southern kitchen. Fishing can a little later in his life, but in a big way. Captain Thom and his wife are avid big game fisherman and have traveled extensively to find their next big game fish. Although his wife, Nancy usually ends up catching more, Thom will brag a little and say he catches the biggest; a 500 pound blue marlin, the largest to date. Fishing, cooking and hot sauce there you have Captain Thom in a nut shell and he couldn’t be happier.

Cindy Reed Wilkins, founder of Cin Chili & Company, is the manufacturer of a line of products that included award winning chili seasoning mixes, hot sauces, BBQ sauce, rubs/seasonings, and pickles.Cindy is the only back-to-back winner of the CASI International Chili Championship. After years of deliberation, her company was formed in 2005, when Cindy decided to share her award winning recipe with the rest of the world. She has won numerous awards for her products and was featured on a “Throwdown with Bobby Flay”; “The Chili Challenge”; on the Food Network. Her products are distributed and sold around the country and internationally in specialty food venues. cooking started out as a hobby and was a family affair; she comes from a pedigree of champions as her mother is a World Champion, too. Several other family members have been up on the winning stage, as well; thus the nickname, The “Chili Dynasty”! Who would have thought that her passion for chili would become her business and that she could get up each and every day and tell the success story of Cin Chili & Company. Who doesn’t love a “good bowl of red”!

Michele Northrop - Intensity Academy has created a Spicy Buzz within the Fiery Food industry. Winning over 50 awards in such a short period of time has really set this company on fire! Their line has evolved into a variety of all natural, tea infused marinades, ketchups, dipping sauces & hot sauces. The concept for the first sauce was inspired up from a school project. While working in the garden at her sons’ school, Founder, Michele Northrup, wanted to promote the yield from the garden. "The vegetable of the week was carrots. We all brought a basket of them home to experiment. I thought the natural sweetness of the carrots would balance the heat of the peppers. I made a few varieties of a carrot based hot sauce. The feedback from the students, staff, friends & family was amazing! I went to the local grocery store looking up & down the shelves & saw there was not anything similar to this sauce. I really jumped right into it without looking back. I figured WORST-case scenario everyone I knew would get hot sauce for Christmas! Now, 5 years later, I am so grateful for this Saucy Life." Michele has been featured in Southern Living Magazine, on Yahoo! TV & was named Tampa Bay Business Woman of the Year in Manufacturing. 

Vic Clinco - Über collector and spicy food fanatic Vic Clinco choose a unique way to express his food passion. The blogger, reviewer and contributing writer for Chile Pepper Magazine and his wife Wendy have amassed the largest privately owned hot sauce collection in the world in the living room of their Phoenix Arizona home. Over 5,000 unused, sealed and unique bottles adorn the walls of this shrine to the hot sauce industry. With over 20 years grocery retail and management experience, Vic recently made the decision to follow his what some people describe as an obsession for hot and fiery food and attended culinary school. In pursuing his dream and in honing his culinary skills Vic runs the Staff Dining kitchen at the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale Arizona. 

John Hard CaJohn’s –– The, without doubt, the most award winning sauce developer in the history of this vertically themed industry – a covet mentor of anyone wishing to get into the industry – Additionally, he has a significant plant developed and catering to continued sauce development and bottler for many of the Hot Sauce companies … a solid and super personality … has appeared on many of The Food Network shows!

Steve Seabury - High River Sauces was started by music industry veteran, food junkie and Heavy Metal Cookbook author Steve Seabury. His cookbook titled Mosh Potatoes (Simon & Schuster) is a collection of recipes from the biggest bands in Hard Rock & Heavy Metal. While putting together the cookbook, Seabury found that his passion for food was shared by many of his favorite icons. He wanted to bring his shared passion of food and music to the masses. High River Sauces has been formed out of this passion. High River Sauces will provide the music and food fanatic with artisan sauces made from the best organic ingredients for that ultimate culinary experience. Each bottle of sauce will be cranked up to 11 to give your taste buds that true Rock & Roll Explosion.

Curtis Moore – Owner/Chef - The Praline Connection – New Orleans, one of the finest place to get the very best in Soul Food in all of New Orleans – plus his Pralines are historically well know throughout the U.S. … infamous for his grilled livers always featured when he appears as a Celebrity Chef … he has non-stop stores



Keith Jenkins, Frog-Bone Cajun Sauces was raised on the north shore of New Orleans in Madisonville, Louisiana where their source for seafood came from lakes, bayous and rivers. As a kid, he and his grandfather would stay on his houseboat on the Tchefuncte River and catch a mess of catfish, clean them and have a good ole' fish fry with family and friends.  In 2010, Keith moved to Tyler Texas and opened a seafood restaurant called "Cajun Bayou Seafood". Due to the frequent requests for his sauces and recipes, he made the decision to start his own line of gourmet sauces. With spices from Louisiana and Texas he created Frog-Bone Cajun Sauces.  In 2013, Keith moved back to Madisonville to share his sauces with his home state. He now travels all over the country to share his products.  

Johnny McLaughlinHeartbreaking Dawns is the Hudson Valley, NY and Tri-State Area’s premier producer of all-natural artisan sauces and spice blends.  The company is independently owned and operated by husband and wife team Chef Johnny and Nicole McLaughlin.  The formation of the company began by transforming items from their garden into delicious sauces, putting those sauces into bottles, and adding eye-catching labels.  While bringing the sauces to family and friends houses for BBQ’s during the summer of 2008, a friend suggested taking the sauces to a local festival and selling them to the public.  Johnny and Nicole were thrilled by the response they had received at that first festival and went home, made more sauce, and signed up for more festivals.   They had no idea that in a short time, those exciting creations would become some of the most talked about and sought after products on the market.  The company invaded living rooms all over the country with Chef Johnny’s 2012 appearance on Food Networks hit show “Chopped." They continued the year with a handful of national promotions, a full schedule of events, demos and appearances.  Through hard work and dedication Heartbreaking Dawns is reaching a new demographic of people. Most recently, Heartbreaking Dawns appeared on the Premier Episode of CNBC's New Hit Show CROWD RULES! Not only did the company win, but won the hearts of the audience with a victorious landslide in every round of voting!

STRETCH of Grinders Signature Hot Sauces believes there is a common thread between art, food and music, they cross all cultural boundaries. This vision is why he opened Grinders, Grinders West and CrossroadsKC at Grinders music venue in the Heart of the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City, Missouri.  Grinders has been an accumulation of STRETCH’s travels and life experiences -- a food-art-music-fusion inspired by places like punk club CBGBs, Maxs Kansas City, night clubs, and classic dive joints with quality food and a fun atmosphere. A great experience at a great price whether you’re an artist, government official, lawyer, a musician, or a clown. Grinders has gained world-wide notoriety thanks to the hit shows Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, Guys Big Bite & Food Paradise. STRETCH has since toured twice with Guy Fieri on his national Foodapalooza Roadshow and the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, showcasing his custom 25-gallon monster margarita machine. STRETCH, along with many other celebrity chefs, travels with the Messlords, cooking and entertaining for the military around the world. In addition to public art and food, STRETCH has expanded his creative career to television, which has included direct participation in Discovery Channel’s, Monster House as well as working with ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for five episodes. Currently, STRETCH is filming television shows for the SPIKE channel, Discovery Channel & Animal Planet as well as participating in renovations on episodes of Bar Rescue, BBQ Pitmasters, and numerous local TV & radio programs.

Peggy Sweeney-McDonald,
Sep 24, 2013, 8:12 PM