In this case he's (allegedly) protecting himself for (allegedly) ripping off all of the booth money from the Houston Hot Sauce Festival and (allegedly) using that $ to take his family on trips to exotic places like Disneyworld.
Mr Romero also (allegedly) embezzled money from the Louisiana Hot Sauce Festival for two straight years, claiming substantial losses and (allegedly) pocketing the difference between the profits and the losses he (allegedly) reported.
As a direct result, the HOU hot sauce expo has been canceled this year, leaving all those who paid for it losing $. Many of these are small businesses who can ill afford such a loss. It's shameful that Mr Romero (allegedly) stole this money, and then rather than defend himself he (not allegedly) fired for bankruptcy protection, essentially flipping the middle finger to those he (allegedly) stole from.
For those who don't know, Mr Romero is also the creator of the "World Hot Sauce Awards", and apparently sees no issue in hosting those still, despite the ongoing litany of alleged abuses.
Mr Romero has been quick to change the World Hot Sauce Awards website to denounce his association with any festival (where previously those associations were the chief marketing bullet point and measure of credibility.)
I would therefore strongly caution anyone considering entering this sham of an award, to consider whether this cancer on the hot sauce industry is deserving of your hard-earned money for an award that is reportedly not recognized as having any credibility in the industry by anyone.
Bear in mind, both head judges quit after the 1st year (and currently want nothing to do with the organizer or his shady awards).
And I relate this to everyone as a 1st place winner and divisional champion from the 1st year - knowing full well that in doing so, I help to destroy the credibility of an award that I possess. Selfishly, that is in part why I've said little publicly to date - after all, I invested in the awards entry, and hate to see my investment / 1st place / division win be for naught. But sometimes enough is enough. I don't give a crap about that trophy, and will be throwing it in the garbage where it belongs.
Full disclosure. I've not supported this award since that 1st year, in large part because Mr. Romero publicly attempted to belittle a peer in the hot sauce industry for daring to ask a question about improper storage of refrigerate-only samples that were left unrefrigerated. When I had that vendor's back in the comments, I was sent nasty private messages by Mr Romero, and subsequently "banned" from the awards for "disrespecting them". Further Mr Romero reneged on the $400 booth that I had fairly won by winning the divisional prize.
And nothing alleged about this part: in private messages, Mr Romero was hostile, childish, and vindictive, and displayed an attitude like he had earned some sort of high standing in the hot sauce world - he went so far as to try to tell me I was also "banned from the Golden Chiles", which the organizers of Zestfest found bizarre since he's entirely unaffiliated.
So please be warned: The "World Hot Sauce Awards" are currently soliciting vendors for entries. The organizer has (allegedly) stolen from dozens of well respected vendors and is (allegedly) responsible for ruining 2 separate events, the LA Hot Sauce Festival & the long running Houston Hot Sauce Festival. The bankruptcy filing is active and can be found online.
Do not give this person of questionable integrity your $ for an award no one respects.
As a business owner, I ordinarily don't dwell on the negative, but this man has (allegedly) hurt a lot of my friends in the industry - and I won't sit back and say nothing while he continues (allegedly) hurting people.
Love & hot sauce
Edited by Lucky Dog Hot Sauce, 22 July 2016 - 04:01 PM.