The month-long Hawke's Bay Winter Food and Wine Classic - F.A.W.C! - got off to a fiery start with a chilli pepper session on Saturday morning.
Almost 20 people took over Farmhouse Kitchen before tucking into a three-course meal they helped make.
Farmhouse Kitchen cook Pauline Korevaar taught a class how to use the produce while Orcona Chillis 'n Peppers owner Tricia Watson explained chilli varieties and relishes, sauces and other dried chilli products they would be using.
Following the lesson the novices were let loose to try their own hand at making coconut prawns, ricotta-filled anchos, roast vegetables with smoked paprika, tortillas, Greek yoghurt with harissa paste, braised chickpeas with cavolo nero and sweet smoked paprika, and splayed chicken with honey and smoked chipotle flakes.
They then enjoyed a sizzling banquet of the chilli-inspired dishes they had just created.
Dessert was a chocolate mouse with a chilli flake, mint and fennel seed shard.
The heat of the chillies ranged from mild to flaming and unsuspectingly, Stephen Wellgreen gasped in shock as he reached for water to douse his burning mouth during dessert.
This is the fourth year he and his wife Fiona are attending F.A.W.C! They had travelled from Wellington to wine and dine on the Bay's best.
"We just love it," Mr Wellgreen said.
The couple attended the Better With Age dinner at Mission Estate Winery the previous night and were looking forward to attending more events before they travelled home.
Kaye Francis, also from Wellington, said it was good to try the different dishes and loved the bright sunny days the region had put on for her trip away.
She had attended the Secret World of Chocolate at Picnic the previous afternoon and enjoyed learning about the professional techniques used.
Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said the official opening, the Last Crush at Black Barn Market Round, was "beautiful". Winter F.A.W.C! had so far gone well and everyone appeared to be "pretty happy".
Hunkering down with roaring fires, music and local produce are the focus of this F.A.W.C!
?Tickets are still available for some events. Visit fawc.co.nz/tickets.