Texans never miss the chance to eat spicy food, and they never back down from a challenge. That’s why the annual ZestFest in Irving, Texas is such a classic event. ZestFest brings together celebrity chefs, exhibitors, companies, products, and the public to taste some of the spiciest food from around the country. If you didn’t make it to this Dallas event, here’s what you  missed out on:

The Details

Date: January 26-28, 2018

Time: Friday: 1:00-6:00 p.m.; Saturday: 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; Sunday: 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Location: Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas, 500 West Las Colinas Boulevard, Irving, Texas 75039

Cost: $15

Fiery Food Challenge

You can’t have a Dallas foodie event without some of the best spicy food. The Fiery Food Challenge kicks off ZestFest in the beginning of the week. It is the longest-running spicy food competition in which contestants compete for the Golden Chile Award. It is a blind competition, meaning the judges don’t know whose dishes they are tasting, and they split the day up so their tongues don’t get burnt out. The judges are lucky enough to asses spicy, fiery, hot, and zesty foods in several categories: consumer ready, cook off, marketing, and new products.

Don’t think you’re missing out on tasting these amazing entries. Alongside the judges picks, you can taste the entries for yourself and vote for your favorites. The winners of both parts of the competition are announced during the festival.

Atomic Wing Challenge

You don’t have to be a professional chef or business to win a contest at this year’s ZestFest. You still have plenty of time to register for the Wingstop Atomic Wing Eating Contest on Saturday, January 27th. If you’re take pride in your wing-eating abilities, sign yourself up to win a big screen TV. What’s better than spicy wings and a prize?

Roasted Pig Dinner

If you still haven’t eaten enough spicy food during the festival (and is there such a thing as enough spicy food?), you can extend this culinary event by attending the roasted pig dinner on Saturday night. For only $15, you can dig into a whole roasted pig, ribs, brisket, sides, beer, and soft drinks made especially by Eddie Deen.

If the food isn’t enough to entice you, perhaps Eddie Deen’s huge Texas presence will. Since 1980, Eddie Deen has been serving delicious Texas barbecue in his restaurants, at galas and weddings, and at four inaugurations. Even more impressively, he works at homeless shelters and teaches classes at the MLK Center. You can enjoy the ZestFest dinner or visit one of Eddie Deen’s preferred restaurants all around Dallas (be sure to choose one near our MCLife properties!).

Beyond the competitions and events, ZestFest 2018 was a premier event in the Texas culinary scene. You could’ve seen some of the top chefs give demonstrations, taste the hottest foods on from around the world, and dance your heart out to some live music. Sad you missed it? Us too. But there’s always next year! 

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