Rambler Newspapers

Serving Irving, Coppell and Grand Prairie

Irving — Spice-loving foodies tasted their way through Zest Fest 2020, presented at the Irving Convention Center. This annual three day event, Jan. 24-26, was an opportunity for people to try a variety of hot sauces and rubs. The festival offered over 85 booths with a variety of products from beef jerky to salsa to spicy drinks. The festival also featured seven celebrity chefs who taught visitors to cook a variety of dishes.

Mi Favorito Handcrafted Salsa was created by Cole Chaverria and Kodie Kaker, based out of Irving.

“We have three flavors of salsa, mild, hot, and garden habanero,” Chaverria said. “It is a restaurant style salsa with fresh ingredients. We started making for family and friends but realized that people liked it so much.” 

“As we got older and realized that not all salsa has a lot of flavor, we realized there was a market for good, fresh salsa,” Kaker said. “It is nice to sell at the market, because sometimes we can get farm fresh ingredients while we are selling our salsa. We try to use the freshest vegetables possible.”

Guests enjoyed sampling different foods.

“This is exactly what we expected,” Gretchen Robinson said. “We were invited by some friends, and we were not disappointed. We definitely plan to come out next year. I really like being able to try all the different sauces and buy things that are not available in our local grocery store. I bought a case of BBQ sauce. I feel like I need to make sure I have enough to last me until next year.”

“We have been walking around, sampling products,” Paul Portis said. “I have enjoyed everything I have tried. I have really liked the rubs and sauces for meat.

“This is a fun event to explore the different tastes from around the world. I tried some sauce from Trinidad that was amazing. I had never had that before. I did not realize there was such a variety of tastes represented.”

Estefania Vasquez and Johnny Sompholphardy created Vatsana’s Seafood Hot Sauce and presented it at Zest Fest. 

“This event is for all sorts of hot sauces and spicy foods,” Sompholphardy said. “This is our first time at this event. We met vendors in Houston at another event, and they said we had to go to this event. This one is huge, and we have had such a great time.” 
“Our hot sauce is based on a Laotian family recipe,” Vasquez said. “We have a story behind our sauce. Our branding is based on that tradition. The serpent represents our culture, paying honor to where our family comes from.

“Actually, we named our company after Johnny’s mom. She has been so supportive. She cried when she saw we named our sauce after her.”