Hot stuff! UCB duo enjoy trip of lifetime to Tabasco HQ, USA

October 2014

Chef lecturer Phil High and trainee chef Matt Price enjoyed the trip of a lifetime when they jetted off to Tabasco HQ - and were given by the red carpet treatment by the famous red sauce.

The duo flew business class to the Deep South after they scooped the top prize in the Tabasco Student Street Food Challenge.

Matt, then a Level 2 professional cookery student, beat 20 fellow contestants with his Sweet Tabasco Syrup. Mentored by Phil, Matt also won huge praise for his innovative product packaging and the preparation of his “on-the-go” street food.

Both student and lecturer were rewarded for their outstanding work with a five-day trip to the States, taking in a VIP visit to the home of Tabasco on Avery Island in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Phil and Matt were shown around the factory where the seven varieties of sauce are made. The tour took in a look at the eye-watering chilli mash from which the condiment is produced, as well as the barrel storage area and bottling plant.

No expense was spared as two Michelin-star chefs were flown to the island to cook for the party, preparing a special Tabasco-inspired feast including, in Phil’s words, “the biggest Louisiana prawns you have seen in your life,” fillet of beef injected with chilli and a chocolate fondant with, yes, chilli.

The trip also included a visit to New Orleans where Phil and Matt had a unique food tour, stopping at ten of the city’s restaurants and being served a dish and a cocktail in each establishment.

“It was the trip of a lifetime,” says Phil. “I had never been to the States before. I was taken by the size of the place, the ambiance and friendliness.”

Phil says he will never forget staying on Avery Island, where they were put in luxury guest accommodation. “It’s an unbelieveable place,” adds Phil. “The island is surrounded by swamp – and alligators come up to your door.”

The chef lecturer plans to enter another UCB student in the Tabasco challenge this year.

Tabasco’s Original Red Sauce was created in the 1860s by Edmund McIlhenny to spice up the bland food on offer in the South after the Civil War. The first commercial batch comprised 658 bottles of sauce. Today, the 200 employees on Avery Island are able to turn out 700,000 bottles a day.

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