Hotter than hell: the Spicy Food World Championship

Contestants from around the world compete for the top prize at the 'Spicy Food World Championship' in Berlin. Video: Reuters

There is a saying that goes, 'Big boys don't cry', but in Berlin on Saturday at the 'Spicy Food World Championship', there were more than one or two men with a tear in their eye.

The challenge of the competition is simple; competitors are set the task to eat all 14 dishes of a specially prepared menu that increased in spiciness with every dish consumed.

The genesis of the Berlin competition started out a joke amongst a group of friends who set themselves the challenge to see who amongst them could eat the hottest chillies.

The madcap idea took hold and grew in popularity till it became a serious contest.

The event organiser, Frank Spiess, is the gatekeeper to the competition's secret spicy recipe. He prepares special batches of the super hot sauce that is served onto the local dish of sausage called 'currywurst' for competitors to eat.

The challenge starts out well enough with the first dish being served up with a fiery peppery sauce registers at a heat quotient of 10,000 Scoville, a unit of measurement used to determine the heat of a chilli.

As the competition heats up and more rounds are completed, competitors who last the distance could be expected to be served a chilli covered currywurst dish whit a heat quotient of up to seven million Scoville, which is supposed to be hotter than pepper spray.

As the competition ploughed on and the field of tough guys dwindled, it was left to just one extraordinary competitor who was able to last the distance.

Stephan Kuehne a super human chilli consumer from Macedonia out-burned them all and with the help of ice packs cooling him down, Kuehne survived - not always relaxed but still - an unbelievable 7.7 million Scoville. "The heat in your mouth, that's tolerable," Stephan Kuehne told Reuters after the competition. "It is the stomach that closes up very fast. And the heat and combination with the stomach cramps - that is the hard thing."

And for those who didn't go the distance this time, there is always next year.

Reuters

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