The first official meeting of The Pepper Lovers Club of Virginia Beach was held on February 19, 1992 at Tracy’s Clam and Oyster Bar (later the Half Shell – sadly now closed) on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach, VA. The Club was started by a handful of hot pepper connoisseurs for the true Chile pepper enthusiast. Thanks Bruce!
In Memory of Bruce McLaughlin,
Chief Executive Habanero
Bruce McLaughlin, Chief Executive Habanero, exclaimed: “You’re going to form a what?!” That was the immediate response of most of the people who listened to my original idea of forming a group of people who liked to eat chiles and all sorts of dishes created using chiles. However, I was not deterred, and on February 19, 1992, we held the first official meeting of the Pepper Lovers Club of Virginia Beach.
Wait…I am getting ahead of myself. Why did I decide to do this and how did the idea germinate? Being between jobs and dealing with the trials and tribulations of job hunting, unanswered resumes and dead-end want ads, I took out my frustrations in my three small gardens. One asset I had was a plethora of extra chiles and the knowledge of several other pepper lovers’ gardens who told me to help myself to their abundance. Not having the means to enjoy “happy hours” and a few brews at the local establishments meant I had to come up with an idea to capitalize my garden assets.
So… one fine day I took a variety of chiles to Tracy’s Clam and Oyster Bar to share with one of the bartenders who happened to love hot chiles as much as I did. The owner sauntered in and joined in the “tasting”. He allowed as how he could use all the chiles I could supply for his fiery oyster shooters and other hot dishes he liked to create.
The light bulb lit up!!! We struck a deal – I supplied him with a variety of hot chiles and he supplied the suds! Caveman economics!! I loved it as much as did many of his customers. Everyday I brought in new types of chiles to try out, some of the customers wanted to try them too…well, why not form a club to eat, talk, quaff a few, exchange pepper growing, storing, cooking, etc. information?
Now that I’ve caught up…we met on February 19th at Tracy’s Clam and Oyster Bar and the rousing crowd of 15 unamimously agreed to meet again in March. Several of the soon to be “traditions” of the club arose at that meeting and the two following meetings: 1) Charter members were to cut off at the third meeting, 2) a “business meeting” would be 3 minutes of the Club President’s attempt to talk to the gathered celebrants, 3) Robert’s Rules of Order would NOT be mentioned and 4) a Pepper Queen would be needed.
The Pepper Queen was one of the charter member’s ideas – he thought it should be a mandatory thing that the club have a “queen”, his idea was accepted unanimously and HE was elected forthwith. The tradition has gone on and it seems that the only real qualifications for the queen is to be more facially hirsute than the average person and to enjoy being the center of attention. Plus being in the wrong place at the right time has a little to do with it as well. The Queen shows up in full regalia (for a short time) at all meetings and special events.