Some Like it Hot…And Sweet!

Hot Sauce Challenge at Nothing Bundt Cakes

Article by Grand Junction Lifestyle Staff

Photography by Grand Junction Lifestyle Staff

Originally published in Grand Junction Lifestyle

For the food issue, we decided to have a little fun with our staff and host a hot sauce challenge. We fashioned ours after the style of “Hot Ones” and did an interview with one of our photographers and one of our writers.

Nothing Bundt Cake owners Erin Gordon and her mom, Christie, offered to host our event.

Our Hot Sauce Challenge really heated up when chef Steven Barnard, chef de cuisine at the Bookcliff Country Club, offered to create custom sauces specifically for our challenge. 

Let me introduce our challengers:

If you go through our past issues you will see that Ashlee Ficklin is a photographer with a broad skill set. Vauna Gross is an audiologist turned hobby writer. They are both talented and up for a new challenge, but this one was unexpected. 

Question I, featuring the Poblano, Jalapeno, and Green Chile Sauce:

What is your heat tolerance?

Ashlee: Very little. I am a lightweight when it comes to spice. I am already feeling the spice here. I can’t lie, I am nervous about how hot this is going to get. 

Vauna: I like a little spice. I don’t want anything extreme, but I like some spice in my food. The spice in this first sauce is good, I can tell it is there, but it isn’t over-powering

Question II, featuring the 5 Pepper Sauce (Jalapeno, Arbol, Guajillo, Calabrian, Poblano):

How did you get started as a photographer/writer?

Ashlee: I’ve always liked photography, but I wasn’t sure if I should do it as a business. I was invited by a friend, Jackie Tanner,  to help her do a shoot for a family up on the Grand Mesa. That sold it for me. I came home excited and told my husband, “I want to do this!”. This has a little more spice. My eyes are already starting to water.

Vauna: I come from a history of academic writing. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and offered to write an article for GJ Lifestyle. I love living in Grand Junction, and it is such a joy to highlight the amazing people that also call this valley home. I am starting to feel the spice. There is some sweet, but definitely spicy. 

Question III, featuring the Mango Habanero Sauce:

You two are both moms. What is your go-to meal?

Ashlee: Spaghetti is always a winner. Barbeque chicken is also a great choice. Ooh. My tongue is on fire! This is hot! How much milk do we have? Half a gallon? Pass it over!

Vauna: Ashley is right, pasta is a great choice, especially if you have a picky eater. I love to make an easy 3-ingredient alfredo sauce, grill up some chicken, throw a salad together, and there you go: a restaurant-worthy meal that is quick and easy to do at home. Yep. this one has some kick. Definitely lives up to its name. I’m going to need that milk. 

Question IV, featuring the Chipotle Arbol Sauce:

What is your favorite Grand Junction Restaurant?

Ashlee: A while back, I was introduced to Hailie’s oven. It is such a cool little bakery, especially for those with dietary restrictions. This one doesn’t feel as hot, but my lips are burning. They feel like they are blistering. Yep, that’s good!

Vauna: When we moved to Grand Junction, I really enjoyed discovering Fly’n Roosters. Usually, wing places are too loud and crazy for me. I really like their more laid-back approach, and they have some great wings. I never get ones this spicy though! 

Question V, featuring the Habanero Ghost Sauce:

What is your favorite thing about photographing for and writing for Grand Junction Lifestyle Magazine?

Ashlee:  Why did I say yes to this? This is so hot! I love all the new experiences. I am learning a lot about different people and how they do things and build their businesses. I love getting into the culture of the town. Oh, man.  I don’t know if we can still be friends. This is so hot! It burns everywhere. I think I could light a fire with my mouth. 

Vauna: Can I strategically bite to get just a tiny bit? No. Okay here goes! I have really enjoyed getting to write human interest stories. It is so fun to discover something new and meet wonderful people. I am feeling this sauce. I need more milk for sure. It just gets hotter. 

At this point, as our contestants were worried their mouths would never be the same, we were able to surprise them with a bonus question, compliments of Nothing Bundt Cakes.

Bonus Question, featuring a Red Velvet bundlet with Nothing Bundt Cake’s signature frosting:

What is the sweetest thing about living in Grand Junction?

Ashlee: We just have such great people here. Also the sunsets. We definitely earned this cake. This is good. I feel like this is peace after a traumatic experience.

Vauna: I love the beauty of the Grand Valley. No matter which direction you look, there is a beautiful view. The Monument, The Grand Mesa, the Bookcliffs, the desert. We are so blessed to live in a beautiful place. You know what? My mouth isn’t on fire anymore. I was expecting to have a burning mouth for hours. This is amazing!

Seriously, readers, none of us expected that these cakes would be the cure for a ghost pepper-burning mouth. This could be a game changer for the world of hot sauce challenges. If you are planning to host a hot sauce challenge, we strongly encourage you to pick up some cake at Nothing Bundt Cakes. Your mouth will thank us. 

Magazines don’t have blooper reels, but we have a blooper-worthy story for you: As we were setting up the shoot, and liberally dosing the chicken legs with sauce, the number III hot sauce exploded. Unfortunately, this was not a small mess. This was an all-over-the-walls, up-to-the-ceiling kind of a mess. Such a mess that the hot sauce has been renamed Exploding Mango Fiesta. 

We want to give a HUGE thank you Erin Gordon for being so gracious and helpful in getting the mess cleaned up. She really exemplifies the core values of Nothing Bundt Cakes: Erin creates genuine connections, has the spirit of a champion, and most definitely shared with us her servant’s heart.

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