Chicago Celebrates the Beaver Dam Pepper’s 100th Birthday

The Scrumptious Pantry and Slow Food Chicago host a centennial celebration

Beaver Dam Pepper

The Scrumptious Pantry and Slow Food Chicago are hosting The Beaver Dam Pepper Centennial Celebration, a series of events to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Beaver Dam pepper in Chicago from Sept. 17 to 23.

The Scrumptious Pantry, a gourmet food company that works with sustainable family farms, and the nonprofit Slow Food Chicago, which promotes sustainable food, are having the red, mildly spicy Beaver Dam peppers, where they will be served at restaurants, farmers’ markets, and in-store tastings during the centennial celebration.

Joseph Hussli brought the Beaver Dam pepper to Beaver Dam, Wis., in 1912. It is at risk for extinction because it is more difficult to grow than the more modern, hybrid varieties. The Beaver Dam pepper grows to be 9 inches long, which requires the plants to be trellised, making them harder to cultivate, according to event organizers.

"The Beaver Dam Pepper Centennial Celebration has been created to introduce people to delicious flavor and complexity of this heirloom pepper. In addition, we want to share the pepper’s history and demonstrate the importance of preserving heirloom food traditions," said Scrumptious Pantry founder Lee Greene.

Celebratory events include the Tour de Menu at local restaurants like Lula Café, Birchwood Kitchen, Uncommon Ground and Green Zebra, where local chefs will feature the Beaver Dam pepper on special menu from Sept. 21 to 23. Birchwood Kitchen is hosting a Beaver Dam Pepper Brunch featuring a dish of peperonata, lemon-garlic Swiss chard, grilled bread, poached eggs, and Beaver Dam pepper relish; Green Zebra is serving basil cavatelli with roasted summer fennel, Beaver Dam chile coulis, and pea tendrils; and Standard Market Deli is serving Beaver Dam pepper quesadillas.
Slow Food Chicago and The Scrumptious Pantry will be popping up at select farmers' markets in Chicago, like Lincoln Square Market on Sept. 18, Daley Market on Sept. 20, Green City Market on Sept. 22, and Logan Square Market on Sept. 23 to share the story of the peppers, and pass out samples, recipes, and seed packets.

The Beaver Dam Pepper Centennial Celebration also includes demonstrations and in-store tastings at Marcel’s Culinary Experience and Provenance Food & Wine on Sept. 21 and Apple Fest and Provence Food & Wine, City Olive, and Standard Market on Sept. 22.

Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.