Register for Datil Pepper Festival, Home Show


datil peppers red & purple

The St. Johns County Extension Office invites local venders with home and garden products, to participate in the St. Johns County Home and Garden Show and Datil Pepper Oct. 4 and 5 at the St. Johns County Agriculture Center 3125 Agriculture Center Drive.

To reserve a space and for further information call 209-0430.

A highlight of the two-day event is the Datil Pepper Cook-Off Oct. 4, with top chefs from St. Augustine’s finest restaurants compete. The cook-off is open to the public in conjunction with the St. Johns County Home and Garden Show.  Participating chefs will be invited to create both an appetizer and an entree dish using the local datil pepper.

There will be a first prize award (4 awards total-cash and plaque) for the entrée and appetizer in two judging categories:  Professional Award and People’s Choice Award.  The People’s Choice Award division will be judged by the participating public at the Festival. Tickets for this division will be sold the day of the event. It will be on a first come, first served basis. Judging is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vote for your favorite ‘pepper’ delight.

Also planned Oct. 4 is the amateur Datil Pepper Hot Sauce contest, with the winner receiving $50. Winning sauce is based on datil flavor.  Submit as many entries as you want.  Please bring in your form and 8 oz sample to the St. Johns County Agricultural Center by 3 p.m. Oct. 3. The winner will be announced Oct. 4 at the Home and Garden Show.

The Datil Pepper Festival is a one- day event. Call 209-0430 for the Amateur Datil Pepper Hot Sauce contest form.


The late Donnie Gader, who for many years was involved in the works of the St. Johns County Extension Service, was known for her outstanding culinary creations. Following here are two: Her chicken and shrimp pilau recipes.

Donnie Gader’s Chicken Pilau

1/4 cup oil

1 lb. onions, finely chopped

1 large can tomatoes

1/2 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

Black pepper to taste

Datil peppers to taste

1 tsp. fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme

1 large frying chicken, cut up

1 lb. white rice, well washed

2 cups water

Heat oil in a heavy iron pan. Add onions and cook until brown. Add tomatoes, sugar, salt, black pepper, datils and thyme. Cook this down into a thick paste. Then add chicken. Stir, simmer for 20 minutes. Add rice and water. Cover and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, stir once.

Let stand to let flavors blend in. Serve hot.

Donnie Gader’s Minorcan Shrimp Pilau

2 lbs. shrimp, deveined and headed

1/2 lb. salt bacon, diced

1 small can tomatoes

4 onions, medium sized, diced

1 small green or red bell pepper, seeded, diced fine

1 datil pepper, diced fine


2 cups rice

Thyme and other spices

Wash and cut the shrimp in half – medium sized shrimp give best flavor.

In heavy bottom pot, fry bacon slowly and then remove half. Cook tomatoes and onion in the bacon fat. Add peppers. Cook until a nice brown color, then add raw shrimp and cook for a few minutes. Add enough water to the mixture to equal 3 1/2 cups. Bring to a boil and add rice.

Add thyme or other spices, if using. Cook slowly until finished. Rice grains should be distinct. Salt to taste.


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