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  • Bettina Applewhite

Spicy Red Pepper Sauce

Late this summer I was featured as a contestant on Top Chef Amateurs. It was such a fun opportunity to work with professional chefs. I was also introduced to the world of large scale TV production. During that time I was able to cook with Dale Talde and make this incredible spicy red pepper sauce.

It was such a wonderful experience that replay in my mind often. I keep getting asked what's my favorite part of the experience? I can't narrow it down to one thing. The entire experience was magical. Watching the show air with my family and friends was such a fun experience too. It allowed me to see my experience from a different lens. You rarely get to live your experience from an outside viewpoint.

While you're filming everything seems to happen so quickly. It's hard to keep up with all the details. But one thing that I etched in my brain was making a spicy red pepper sauce with Dale Talde. I knew that's what I wanted. I wanted a complex sauce that wasn't just spice but had a lingering kick that only hit you in the back of your palate. We worked together to make sure that it was bright and colorful.

The sauce I made caused Chef Kwame Onwuachi to say, "I want more." Gail Simmons praised how "velvety", smooth the sauce was. I understand the importance of a good sauce. It brings the meal together and makes it complete. It can take an ordinary dish and make it extraordinary.

This sauce is so delicious and amazing. You will be looking for more uses for it. I paired it with red snapper but you can also use it with other types of fish, chicken, or even with black beans. The possibilities are up to you.

I made a couple of tweaks to the recipe because I didn't find fresh red cayenne peppers in my grocery store so I used red habanero peppers instead. I removed the seeds just to make sure that it wasn't too spicy. Other than that and the pressures of cooking in the Top Chef kitchen, the recipe is pretty much the same.

Sauté red bell pepper, garlic, habanero pepper, shallots, and thyme until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add in cream, bring to a boil, and puree in a blender. Finish with sherry vinegar. Serve with an extra crispy skinned snapper.

Spicy Red Pepper Sauce

Makes 1/2 Cup


1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped

1 Shallot, diced

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1 Habanero pepper, seeded and diced

3 Sprigs Thyme, leaves removed

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

1 - 2 tsp Sherry Vinegar, to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a small pot or pan over medium heat.

  2. Add garlic and shallots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until shallots are translucent.

  3. Add red bell pepper, habanero, and thyme. Cook until peppers have softened.

  4. Add in cream and turn heat up to high and bring cream to a boil. Allow to boil about 30 seconds.

  5. Remove from heat. Using a blender, blend until all ingredients form a smooth, velvety sauce.

  6. Add in 1 - 2 tsp of sherry vinegar, to taste. Check to see if additional salt or pepper is needed. Serve with your favorite fish or grilled chicken.

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