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The Smoking Tongue

July 25, 2005

$20 Spicy Chef Challenge #1

Victim: Carlos O'Kellys
Winner: Me

Sunday night we ate at Carlos O'Kellys Mexican Restaurant. I got there early, and nursed some beers while waiting for my girlfriend and her mom to show up. The waitress was friendly, but looked pretty bored in her section. As I was perusing the menu, I came across their "spiciest" dish: Más Macho Burro. It had a spicy icon picture next to it and everything! It must be hot. Well, of course it's not really. But an idea struck me at that moment.

When the waitress came by to take our orders, I asked her, "Do your cooks have any leeway in making their dishes? Can they make it more spicy or less spicy?"

She saw me pointing to the Mas Macho Burro in the menu and replied, "Oh yes, they can make it as spicy as you wish! That entree is definitely spicy."

I smile back at her. My girlfriend looking up from her margarita with a puzzled look on her face. "I have a challenge for chef. If he can make this dish so spicy that I can't finish it, I'll give him twenty bucks."

The waitress’s eyes lit up. Her boring night just took a turn for the better. "I'll be sure to tell him EXACTLY what you said." She practically ran back to the kitchen.

Now the cool thing here is how I worded this challenge. Normally if you ask your server to bring your dish extra spicy, you immediately run into two problems. First, "extra spicy" is relative. And let me cut to the chase, I'm a god among mere mortals in this realm. Second, if it's too hot, some asshole customer will bitch and return the dish, getting the waitress and the cook in trouble. Hell, they could even be sued if it hurt the customer.

But what I did that night was give the cook permission to fuck me up. Hell, I endorsed him. Challenged him. Practically called his momma bland. Not only is the gauntlet thrown down, but the limits were removed. If I took one bite, and it was too hot, I would CONGRATULATE him with $20. It's absolutely brilliant, if I do say so myself.

So quite a few minutes later the waitress comes by with more drinks, and I make eye contact and ask slyly, "So, is the chef up to it?"

"Oh my god, yes! He was jumping around yelling, 'Get me the atomic sauce! Grab those jalapenos'," she replied.

I smile, "Can't wait".

It wasn't long after that we got our meals. I swear to god that the kitchen cooked our meals first, making everyone else in the restaurant wait. The waitress gives everyone their plate, and then does me last. With a big flourish of the arm, and nasty grin, she puts down the biggest fucking plate I've ever seen. "Remember, the whole thing. Or Twenty Bucks! Oh yea, he said to use these too," and put down 2 more hot sauce bottles on the table.

Holy shit. The burrito was 14 inches long, if it was 3. It was huge. And the fuckers filled up the rest of the plate with extra rice and extra beans. I am pretty sure the table tilted in my direction due to the weight. I suddenly realized there was a loophole in my challenge. He supersized me. After the shock, I had to smile. The chef showed some ingenuity. Not only was it a heat challenge, now it was a quantity challenge. In my mind, I could hear him snickering in the kitchen.

Well, like they say, each marathon starts with the first step. Already conceding defeat, I took my first bite anyway. DAMN, it was good. Usually I pick chicken as the meat, but I didn't want to fiddle with the ingredients when I ordered this challenge, so I was stuck with the shredded beef. I'm glad - it was excellent. The tortilla was bursting in capacity - every time I cut into the tortilla, jalapeno slices spilled out, skating down on all the atomic sauce.

I had to laugh at the 2 hot sauces she brought me. There was already a Cholula bottle on the table when I came in, My half bottle of Tabasco was sitting next to it, and she brings out Original Louisiana and Pickapeppa Sauce. Basically, 4 of the weaker sauces in the world. The cook should have realized that their Atomic sauce is much hotter than any of these. But to follow his rules, I splashed some of both on the top. I would have used more, but I needed to finish the Tabasco bottle during this meal.

Half way through the tortilla, I ate the garnish: Half a raw jalapeño. Now this was the hottest thing on the plate. My mouth felt a low buzzing, and I enjoyed a nice mellow glow for about 5 minutes. It was really enjoyable then.

The waitress came by quite often, stopping once and asking me how it was. I told her it was delicious, that the cook did a bang up job. Best meal I've had in quite a while. She looked a little disappointed, "Did you try the hot sauce too?" I told her yes, but the sauces aren't hot. "You're nuts," she said and walked away.

Well, I am extremely embarrassed to admit it, but I finished the whole damn plate. I was full. Very full. But not gut busting full. Fuck, I need to go on a diet.

When she came back at the end of the meal, she asked for my plate. "He wants to see proof that you ate it all." I explained to her that it was a nice try, but he probably just doesn't have the right tools for the challenge. Those sliced jalapenos that come out of a large jar are more pickled than hot. The Atomic sauce is delicious, but not atomic, and the hot sauces were pretty mild sauces. The only hot thing on the plate was the garnish, and even that was yummy. Next time he should sneak more of the garnish inside the tortilla, then at least we'd be getting somewhere.

It was a hell of a lot of fun, and I'm going to do this every time I go out now.
I left the waitress a 20% tip, and gave the cook the same amount. A "Nice try though!" written on the check.

Topics: , ,


  • Great story - did they tell you what was in the Atomic Sauce?

    By Blogger hotsauceblog, at 9:33 AM, July 25, 2005  

  • It's just their hotter salsa/sauce that you have to specifically ask for. Nothing more than 5000 scovies

    By Blogger Smoking Tongue, at 10:45 AM, July 25, 2005  

  • I love that story. I lived in New Mexico for years and LOVE hot food. Red and Green Chile are Hot but have a great flavor also. My parents even shipped some overnight to California for me last year. What a treat.


    By Blogger Michael Paul, at 7:01 PM, July 25, 2005  

  • Oh by the way. When you try Dave's Insanity Sauce let me know what you think about that one. We use to keep some around for laughs. It was to hot to put on food but some poeople just insisted on using it when we said not to.

    By Blogger Michael Paul, at 10:30 PM, July 25, 2005  

  • I've had it. Don't really like it. Too hot for me. In fact, since my goal here is to eat a hot sauce a day, I'm not really sure how it's going to get covered here. It would probably take me a year to eat it. This place needs more than one post a year :)

    By Blogger Smoking Tongue, at 6:09 AM, July 26, 2005  

  • very interesting, i could use this method to to ask for the food to be EXACTLY like I wanted it, heh heh.

    The cook and the waitress's motivation and enthusiasm in serving the customers the best was sparked by the challenge you proposed.

    I think that's why the waitress looks like she was bored at first it's because her daily job lacks challenges and became too much of a routine.

    By Blogger Namra, at 1:02 PM, July 26, 2005  

  • LOL!! Yea Dave's is not a great sauce for food. Its ruined most food I put it on. I didn't realize you had to eat the whole bottle. YOu have covered most of my favs Except for Sriracha (I call it Rooster Sauce).

    I keep a bottle of that Vietnamese HOt Sauce in my house all year round. Its good on everything. Not just Pho.

    By Blogger Michael Paul, at 10:38 PM, July 26, 2005  

  • You are my new hero. Right up there with Dave Attel and Fat Bastard. Take that however you wish.

    Also, I must agree that Dave's Insanity doesn't have much flavor. It's just hot. That's why I prefer Blairs Sudden Death Sauce. It's just as hot (or hotter) to me, but there is still some flavor mixed in with it. Just a couple drops is sufficient. Any more and you'll have to explain to everyone why you are crying like a baby.

    By Anonymous Almost Daily, at 3:19 PM, July 27, 2005  

  • I did this exact same thing in a curry house last week. I've been there before and they make exceedingly good curry, insanely tasty, but their level of spicyness pales into comparison compared to the currys I can make with my library of hot sauces. Muah ha ha haa.

    So the server comes over and he doesn't speak english too well, but he got the message. I ordered a chicken tikka masala, and usually have it vindaloo hotness, which to normal folk would kill them. But it's pretty bland to my charred taste buds. So I tell the server to make it as hot as he possibly can. No limits. And said if I finish it, I get it free.

    He goes and gets the chef, and the chef comes out to talk to me. He asks if I was sure that I wanted him to make it really hot.

    "Make it as hot as you possibly can. And then double it."

    He nodded and scurried off. The restaurant was buzzing by this point, all the servers were coming over and looking at my table, and every now and then the chef would come out and tell me "Just five more minutes!".

    They were all excited about my seemingly imminent demise. I'd never seen an indian resturant so excited.

    The plates arrive. The chef and two servers stand and watch as I take my time mixing my pilau rice (which was brown with spice) and curry together on the plate. I load up the fork. Everyone holds their breath as I dump a huge forkful of curry in my mouth.

    Easy. I tell you no lies. I've made hotter curry at home than this. I quickly polish off the whole thing and wipe my mouth. I smile at the chef. He was gobsmacked.

    "You... you like hotter than this?"
    "Oh yeah, I use hot sauce like ketchup mate"

    Free curry, unlimited respect earned and I totally owned a curry house. Rock on.

    By Anonymous Will, at 12:52 PM, July 31, 2005  

  • Awesome story. I've got it backwards, huh. Here I'm giving them money if I fail, and you're getting shit for free for eating it! :)

    Worthy of a post over at your site. Then I can link to it next time I do this.

    By Blogger Smoking Tongue, at 1:36 PM, July 31, 2005  

  • Just wondering if you are thinking of trying Melinda's Red Savina Sauce, personally it is one of my favorite sauces, and although not the hottest sauce in the world, it certainly does have heat.

    If you want spicy, you should try a dish called Phal. It's an Indian curry where the sauce is basically just pureed green peppers(real hot peppers, not jalapenos) in which meat and whole chilli's are cooked until tender.

    By Blogger Nigel, at 7:55 AM, August 03, 2005  

  • I look forward to doing ALL the Melinda sauces. There are even a couple out there now that I haven't even tried before. Should be fun, and thankfully, delicious.

    I know that curry is world reknown for being an excellent spicy dish, but I personally do not like the curry spice. Weird, since I like almost all foods.

    By Blogger Smoking Tongue, at 9:13 AM, August 03, 2005  

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