Columbus, Ohio USA
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North Market worker warming up for Fiery Foods competition
By Margaret Marten
January/February 2014 Issue

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Vince Martin, an employee at Curds & Whey in the North Market, plans to compete in the Hot Wing Eating Contest during the upcoming Fiery Foods Festival held at the Market the weekend of February 15 and 16. photo | Amy Summers Right is Martin at the competition in 2012. photo | Gus Brunsman III

The North Market Fiery Foods Festival will draw more than a few folks out of the frigid cold into the spicy warmth of the Market this February, and Vince Martin will be among them. The event also attracts a host of famous and not-so-famous hot-food vendors from outside the Central Ohio area to market their hot and spicy concoctions. Ed Currie and his Rock Hill, S.C., group, the Puckerbutt Pepper Co. who hold the new Guinness World Record for hottest chile will be there.

The festival, scheduled Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16, is the culmination of an entire week dedicated to the hot and spicy. But the festival itself, held on the weekend, is when the real fun begins with cooking and eating competitions, including a Hot Wing Eating Contest that Martin plans to enter for the second time and win, although his first attempt in 2012 left him in the final (fourth) round with layers of hot sauce on his hands and face, no napkins in sight, and a loser position. “I believe the winner had ten down before I had four or five.”

The 26-year-old Canton native attended Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute after graduating from OSU’s Fisher College of Business and is a sous chef at L’Antibes, so food, fiery or otherwise, is his forte. And working at the North Market Curds and Whey since August 2011 has given him inside knowledge on the workings of the festival and hot sauce. “I am fortunate enough to work next to CaJohn’s, who is a big part of the festival,” said Martin. CaJohn’s sauces are particularly useful in training for the contest. At meals, Martin regularly consumes fiery sauces purchased from CaJohn’s Fiery Foods. “The trick is to develop a tolerance by consuming hotter and hotter sauces,” he said. He also recommends coconut water to quell the fires. “Coconut water works the best out of any drink – milk, bread, beer, anything. It was coconut water that saved my life that day.”


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