Our TV show pain!
Over the years, we’ve had a number of TV production companies contact us and ask if we could get involved with various shows. It’s been an honour on each occasion and we’ve been fortunate to work with the likes of Paul Hollywood, Evil Jared (from The Bloodhound Gang), Tim Muffett (BBC News), James Wong, Dr. Michael Mosely and Alan Titchmarsh. Just recently, we were approached by ITN Productions in London who were looking to work with us and talk chillies. We were happy to oblige so we set a date.
January is a cold time in the UK and as we made the short walk from the train station in Bath to the Grillstock restaurant where we’d agreed to meet, the wind cut through our fresh shaven faces and made us mumble words such as “Let’s hope they don’t want to film outside!”. As we walked through the big glass doors of Grillstock, we were blasted with a welcome stream of warm air. The production crew had clearly been in the restaurant a while before our arrival as they were each wearing t-shirts or a single layer of clothing. It didn’t take us long to lose our fleeces and hoodies as the enveloping warmth made us forget about the cutting wind the other side of the glass.
1pm isn’t the best time to meet in a restaurant but we were in no rush and nor were the ITN crew. We were happy watching the busy lunch service take place and we watched plate after plate of delicious BBQ food be disseminated around the tables. We all had food envy and, being a small(ish) smokehouse eating establishment, there was no escaping the tantalising smoked meat smell. A few nibbles were in order for us to stay focused and not drool from a distance whilst customers chomped on tender meat.
As we picked at some bread with pit drippings and some burnt ends, we listened as ITV laid out their plans for us.
“We want to interview you guys about chillies. We have a list of questions and we’d like answers from everyone.”
‘Not a bad start’ we thought. We can answer questions and talk chillies for hours.
“After that, we would like to film you guys eating the new XXX Hot Wings they have on the menu here!”
Any smiles were quickly diminished and converted to looks of concern. We’ve encountered many restaurant menus which claim to be have dishes that are ‘extra hot’ or an ‘inferno’ yet have disappointed from the first bite. However, the reason our jovial expressions faded was due to us knowing how the Grillstock wings were made. More importantly, what they were coated in…
Photo courtesy of: Grillstock
If you have ever tried just a tiny finger-dip of Hot-Headz’ Who Dares Burns (2nd Assault) Sauce, you’ll know what pain feels like. It’s a capsaicin heavy hot sauce which offers an unrelenting heat. We’re too well versed with chilli extract sauces to take this one lightly. Even though Grillstock are mixing this sauce with their house wing sauce, we still suspected a high and long burn was on the horizon.
Lunch service stayed busy until close to 3pm. ‘Not too shabby for a Thursday’ we thought. Whilst customers embraced their carnivorous appetites, ITN attached microphones to our shirts and started interviewing us. As the show will be aired later in 2017, we won’t spoil their surprise by naming the show or listing some of the questions & answers however, each and every one of their enquiries were about chillies and our involvement. It was quite possibly the largest number of questions we’ve ever been asked during an interview and these guys had clearly done their homework on us.
For close to 2 hours, we talked chilli! We were in heaven and we think the production team were happy with what we gave them. For a while, we had forgotten that phase two of the TV crew’s plan was to film us eating very hot wings. Worse still, as it was now close to 3:30pm and we’d only nibbled on the odd piece of meat or bread, we were hungry again. Any seasoned hot chilli eater will know that eating something ultra hot on an empty stomach is not a good move.
We’ve been friends with the guys at Grillstock for some years. We’ve hung out, drank cider and had a laugh. It’s great to have friends…unless they are the kind of friends who like to stitch up their mates! As the ITN crew had arrived some time before we did, they had had the opportunity to chat with the restaurant staff and, unbeknown to us, had arranged for the XXX Hot Wings to gain an extra ‘X’ or two!
As we sat at our table with the camera rolling, the Grillstock General Manager/head chef walked over with a Cheshire cat grin and mischievous look. His face told us everything we needed to know; the wings had been tampered with and we were in for an evil treat. Chilli extract has a recognisable and unique smell and it hit our sinuses like a steam train. Grillstock wings usually have a lovely char and nice smoke smell. On this occasion, all those lovely features were masked and swallowed by the lashings of Who Dares Burns sauce. In fact, there was so much sauce it was hard for us to identify the shape of the wings underneath! They did not look like the picture above! The thinly cut and lightly sprinkled pieces of spring onion on top was almost a joke. Like we would get to taste and enjoy them?!
The TV crew were very specific about how they wanted us to tackle the wings. They didn’t want us to all tuck in at once whilst they filmed reactions, they wanted us to tackle them one person at a time. Not a bad thing for whoever went first but not so good for anyone thereafter. After a short discussion, we worked out a pecking order for the wings (pun intended) and the cameras started to roll (a seemingly out of date expression in this digital age!).
The initial taste was the sweet, juicy meat from the chicken. Well cooked, light and tasty. Flavours that soon gave way to the searing heat of the coating sauce. Three full wings each and we struggled after a mere few bites. Having taken on a number of hot eating challenges over the years, we’ve found that by focusing on the nicer flavours you can identify, you can usually use this focus to help you through the feat. It was time yet again to use this method in order to get through the 3 wings each that the TV crew expected us to eat. However, the sauce was aggressive with its heat and the burn found its way to our lips, throats, stomachs and fingers. We were sweating, coughing, gagging, dribbling and shaking. Did we each manage to eat 3 wings each? Well, so not to spoil the show, we’ll not answer that one until the show has aired. However, what we can tell you is that the lasting effects of what we did manage were far from pleasant. Toilet trips from 2am became regular and uncomfortable!
Once filming was complete the ITN production team wanted to try the regular XXX Hot Wings for themselves. We couldn’t resist filming and here’s the raw footage: Click here for video
Watch this space for announcements regarding the show’s air date. In the meantime, if you want to try the XXX Hot Wings for yourself, check out your nearest Grillstock restaurant and take a look at their menu as not all sites have them on their menu. Alternatively, you can buy Hot-Headz ‘Who Dares Burns 2nd Assault’ sauce here: Hot-Headz Sauce!