Cook-Off on National Hot Sauce Day heats up support for students

Cook-Off on National Hot Sauce Day heats up support for students


Fifteen fiery-food enthusiasts took part in a cooking contest near Rowan University’s main campus on National Hot Sauce Day Jan. 22 to raise money for student scholarships.

The contest, at Landmark Americana in Glassboro, pitched the cooks in heated battle over who would make the best dish containing Houshmand’s Hazardous Hot Sauce, a line of commercial sauces developed by Rowan President Ali Houshmand to support students at the university.

With the only ground rule to incorporate one of Houshmand’s hot pepper sauces in a finished dish, the cooks came up with a wide variety of entries including Styke’s Veggievicious Dip, My Aunt Chilada’s Enchiladas and Hot Chocolate Lava Cake with a molten, gooey center.

When the flames died down, judging determined that three finalists seared the competition.

Rowan cross country and track and field coach Derick "Ringo" Adamson took first place as well as the Fan Favorite award for his Ringo’s Island Surf & Turf, a dish that paired hot sauce-marinated N.Y. strip steak and fresh salmon with mango salsa, avocado and saffron rice. Served in an authentic coconut cup imported from Adamson’s native Jamaica, his dish was garnished with a paper flag from the island nation.

Second place winner Chetna Macwan of Monroeville made Hot & Fiery Butter Chicken, a spicy Indian curry tempered with butter and cream.

Third place winner Rebecca Bradshaw of Mullica Hill, a Rowan student, made her Hot Chocolate Lava Cake with homemade orange mango ice cream.

A clear crowd favorite even before the winners were announced, Adamson, a two-time Olympic runner for Jamaica, said that upon entering he was determined to win.

“When I compete, I go all the way,” he said. “And I coach the same way.”

As for his well-known love of hot peppers, Adamson said that goes back to his boyhood, too.

“In Jamaica they believe that food can be medicine,” he said. “You almost never see a Jamaican with even a common cold.”

Houshmand’s line of hot sauces, born of a love of hot peppers that he grows and tends himself, launched in October. To date, the University has sold more than 1,500 jars of sauce and, including hot sauce-related gear, has raised more than $18,000 for student scholarships.

As for the use of his beloved sauce in the cooking competition, Houshmand, one of five judges, said the breadth of dishes incorporated with it was remarkable.

“I’m beyond impressed,” he said. “The quality of the food was amazing and it’s really a pleasure to see this level of creativity.”

Hosted by Landmark Americana, the special event filled a large hall in the back of the restaurant with hot food enthusiasts, all of whom sampled the edibles for free.

Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Richard Jones, a somewhat reluctant judge, said he was taking the job seriously even if it burned him.

“I am not a spicy foods kind of guy,” admitted Jones. “But the way these chefs used the sauce, how can you not be impressed? It just shows that with a little innovation, you can do anything. Which is kind of Rowan’s motto.”


Congratulations to all of our contestants:

Bob “Zazz” Zazzali ’72, M ’74, Glassboro

Slow Roasted Pork Houshmandini


Michael Funk, Clayton

Panzerfaust Chili


Chris Potocki, Hamilton Township

My Aunt Chilada’s Enchiladas


Derick “Ringo” Adamson ’83, Glassboro

Ringo’s Island Surf & Turf


Chetna Macwan, Monroeville

Hot & Fiery Butter Chicken


Roberta Harvey, Glassboro

Nasty Jambalicious


David Morris, Woodbury Heights

Dave’s Buffalo & Black Bean Chili


John Taylor, Glassboro

Savory Bison Bacon Bites


Deborah Samuels, Cherry Hill

Debbie’s Spicy Crab Soup


Rebecca Bradshaw, Mullica Hill

Hot Chocolate Lava Cake with homemade orange mango ice cream


Constantine “Cos” Alexakos M ’03, Glassboro
Styke’s Veggievicious Dip


Lori Kuserk ’05, Mount Royal

Nastylicious Bacon


Dr. Ross Beitzel ’63, M ’66, Almonesson

Ross’s Hot Sauce Pretzels Times Three


Patricia Certo, Sicklerville

Certo’s X-Mas Eve Wings


Carey Hamilton Sr. ’80, Trenton

Carey’s Collard Greens Spring Rolls