Hot, hot, hot!

If your idea of a botanical garden is a boring place where grandma makes you look at a bunch of roses, then your impression needs updating!

The mission and programming of 21st Century botanical gardens reflect the times and the culture. The Chile Pepper Fiesta held each fall at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a perfect example. On Saturday, October 3, the Garden celebrates the chile pepper and its uses in cultures around the world with musical performances and culinary activities for the whole family to enjoy.

A new feature this year is the Chocolate Chile Cabana in the Osborne Garden, where throughout the day visitors will have the opportunity to explore one of the most delicious culinary combinations around with attractions including:

  • "Hot" Chocolate: Twelve area chocolatiers and confectioners will create specially commissioned treats that marry the decadence of chocolate with the heat of the chile pepper
  • Brooklyn Chile Peppers 'n' Chocolate Takedown: Amateurs will compete for the crowd's favor as they concoct chile-chocolate dishes
  • The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History: Leading chocolate historian Maricel E. Presilla will sign copies of her new work
  • Sweet & Spicy Suds: Portland's Rogue Brewery will offer their Chipotle Ale and Chocolate Stout to thirsty visitors
  • Some Like It Hot: Chocolate expert Alexandra Leaf will moderate a panel, featuring some of the area's most prominent chocolatiers, on the history, health benefits, and trends of the beloved chile/chocolate combo
  • Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Chocolate But Were Afraid to Ask: No query is too small for Alexandra Leaf, president of Chocolate Tours of NYC
  • The City Sweet Tooth: cartoonist and dessert blogger Abby Denson will be signing copies of her limited-edition comic "When Chocolate Met Chile!"
  • The Dust Busters: Old-time swing tunes with a dash of New Orleans blues


Elsewhere during the Fiesta, spicy food will take center stage in a series of demonstrations and tastings, including:

  • Seoul Food, a Korean cooking session with Chef Saeri Yoo Park of Moim Restaurant
  • Spicy Malaysian Mischief with Corwin Kaye, Executive Chef at Fatty Crab
  • Cooking in Clay with indigenous food expert Nathalie Herling
  • The Art of Indian Chutney-Making with Bombay Emerald Chutney Company Chef Nirmala Gupta

On the mainstage, a series of diverse performances will turn up the heat, as visitors enjoy the joyful African world beat mix of Nepo Soteri & Asante; the infectious blend of North Indian bhangra and brass funk by Red Baraat!; the red-hot ranchera rock of Pistolera; the pulse-quickening dance music of Brooklyn's all-women tour de force Paprika; and the return of Grammy-nominated Lost Bayou Ramblers, virtuosos of the Cajun musical tradition who have thrilled thousands with their repertoire of early accordion dancehall tunes, Cajun swing, and original numbers. MCs Robbins & Ringold fire up audiences with fire eating, fire juggling, and other daring deeds of flame throughout the day.

Plus, hot sauce, hot pickle, and other spicy food tastings; hands-on kids' activities; and a visit with renowned chile plant expert The Chile Goddess will be ongoing throughout the day. The Zagat-rated Terrace Café will offer a special Chile Pepper Fiesta menu to tingle the taste buds with spicy food and cold beer.

For information on all performances and activities, check out: