Chilli fans celebrate all things hot and spicy at UK annual fiesta

(Reuters) - If you want to guarantee yourself a hot August, the Chilli Fiesta in West Sussex, England is a good place for you to visit.

The West Dean Gardens Chilli Fiesta, around since 1995, has proven to be increasingly popular among chili fans.

According to West Dean Gardens Garden supervisor Sarah Wayne, this is because chilies have been all the rage in Britain over the last few years.

“I think there’s a much more diverse culture in this country now. People are much more adventurous in their eating,” Wayne said.

“They travel much more so they experience food right around the world and want to replicate it when they come home.”

At this year’s Chilli Fiesta, scores of visitors came to tickle their taste buds with an array of classic chili sauces.

Others, like visitor Mike Hawkins, experimented with less traditional products such as chili chocolate.

“To start with, it just tastes like chocolate, then you can feel the actual heat coming through, then the chocolate comes back in so it gets a richness, then all the chili comes back,” Hawkins said. “It’s the strongest chili chocolate I’ve ever tried, I must admit.”

Cooking demonstrations lasted until the day came to an end, during which Fiesta attendees could learn more about the different flavors that pair to produce such fire.

Those in search of “the burn” purchased products from Gerald Fowler, founder of The Chilli Pepper Company.

Flower’s sauces come with a safety warning and disclaimer for tempted customers to sign.

“We started adding the heat and everything,” Flower said, spraying chili in the mouth of Fiesta-goer and chili lover Rob McAllister.

“You’re talking a massive, massive jump in heat - and people are loving it.”

“It’s very intense. It’s gone right to my head. I feel like my ears are going to pop,” McAllister said.

“It made me cry, it made my nose run.”

Reporting by Reuters TV in London; Editing by Steve Orlofsky