The return of the Chilli Fiesta at West Dean

Chilli Fiesta: The Fontanas. Picyure by Nancy Honey
Chilli Fiesta: The Fontanas. Picyure by Nancy Honey

The UK’s biggest chilli festival returns to West Dean Gardens for its 23rd year from today until Sunday (August 12).

As well as chilli-tasting and expert cookery demonstrations, there will be guided tours of the gardens, an outdoor cinema, champagne and cocktail bars, Latin music, flamenco dancing, face painting and a vintage funfair.

World Champion dancers, and stars of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, Neil and Katya Jones will make their Chilli Fiesta debut. Katya was the winning professional in this year’s series of Strictly Come dancing.

Spokeswoman Annie McGrath said: “West Dean’s Chilli Fiesta is a family-friendly festival set in the beautiful grounds of West Dean, with full camping facilities in the grounds of West Dean Estate, in the heart of the South Downs National Park.

“The cookery theatre will be hosted by Giles Thomson, former executive head chef of the Ritz Hotel and owner and executive chef of The Earl of March, with guest chef appearances throughout the weekend. Guests include Jack Stein, son of Rick Stein and executive chef of Stein Restaurants.

“Jack recently opened his own cookery school, Cook with Jack Stein, allowing students to cook alongside him and engage with some of his latest recipes.”

Scottish actor and winner of Strictly Come Dancing, Joe McFadden, will be appearing in the Chilli Fiesta’s Ready, Steady, Cook… with Giles Thomson, plus there is a demonstration by MasterChef 2018 contestants Anthony O’Shaughnessy and Sweta Choudhury.

A Chilli Alchemist will be giving a talk entitled How to pick a hot sauce? about what to look for, how to consider the use of a sauce, what difference certain ingredients can make, how the pH affects the sauce, and everything else you may need to know when picking your hot sauce.

Visitors can pick up new culinary skills from Jackie Kearney, award-winning author of Vegan Street Food and My Vegan Travels.

For more information, or to book a ticket, visit and find the Chilli Fiesta section.

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