Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Chilli eating competition comes with warning

Chilli eating champs not for faint hearted.
Amelia Wade and Simon Plumb admit defeat. Photo / Michael Craig
Amelia Wade and Simon Plumb admit defeat. Photo / Michael Craig

It's a competition that puts tastebuds, stomach lining and intestinal fortitude to the test.

The New Zealand Chilli Eating Champs national finals will be held on June 25.

Competitors will eat through a menu starting with a jalapeno, then hotter raw chillies, curry and chilli sauce shots before facing up to the world's hottest chilli peppers, including ghost chilli and the Carolina Reaper, inset.

The average supermarket chilli has a Scoville heat measure of 3500-10,000 units, but some of the peppers in the contest measure upwards of 1 million units. The hottest, Carolina Reaper, rates at an average of 1,569,300 heat units.

Reigning champion Josh Shotter, is trying to become the first to win back-to-back titles. He said his secret was eating creamy, milky and fatty food - like hot chips, rice, bread and milk - before the competition. "Having a strong pain threshold and a good poker face gets you far," Shotter said.

Participants must be over 18, must chew the chillies for 30 seconds before swallowing and consume it within the allocated time.

It carries a warning not to compete on an empty stomach, and recommends competitors "drink lots of milk, yoghurt and icecream" afterwards.

Organiser Clint Meyer said participants had to sign a waiver before entering, and those with any heart, bowel or intestinal problems were barred.

A total of 15 competitors, including three women and two wildcards, will face off in the finals.

Two Herald reporters came face-to-face with the Carolina Reaper this week to see if they had what it took to stomach the world's hottest chilli.

Simon Plumb made it through two nibbles before conceding. "The first bite was pretty intimidating and almost immediately I felt the heat ignite. The second bite ramped up quite a lot. Within seconds my tongue felt like it was on fire and beads of sweat were forming on my face."

Amelia Wade managed half the reaper before doing "the silliest thing" and rubbing her eyes.

Chilli Eating Champs will be held at Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen, 7 Sale St, Freemans Bay, Auckland on Saturday June 25, 3.30pm. Tickets on Eventfinda.

- Herald on Sunday

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