Dave DeWitt is a food historian and one of the foremost authorities in the world on chile peppers, spices, and spicy foods. He got his start in electronic media! After working his way through undergraduate and graduate school as a radio announcer, including a stint at top-rated WRVA Radio in Richmond, VA, Dave owned audio/video production companies in both Richmond and Albuquerque, NM. He wrote, produced, and voiced hundreds of radio and TV commercials as well as 30-minute corporate videos.
After moving to New Mexico in 1974, he co-wrote and hosted the “Captain Space” late-night TV show, which was top-rated in its Saturday midnight time slot on KOAT-TV (1975-76), beating both “Saturday Night Live” and “Star Trek” in the Arbitron ratings. He later produced and hosted a local country music show on KGGM-TV called “A Country Affair.” Moving on, he specialized in on-camera and voice-over talent and was one of the national voices of GMC Truck.
Dave’s interest in chile peppers led to his writing numerous articles on the subject, and in 1984, St. Martin’s Press published his book, The Fiery Cuisines
, co-authored with Nancy Gerlach. In 1988, Dave and Nancy approached publisher Robert Spiegel, and the three launched Chile Pepper magazine with a mere 212 subscribers. By 1995, the magazine had surpassed 50,000 subscribers.Chile Pepper
magazine led to book projects, including The Whole Chile Pepper Book
(Little, Brown, 1990), which sold 120,000 copies. In 1996, Spiegel sold Chile Pepper
and Dave moved on to launch Fiery Foods & Barbecue
magazine, which he edited and published until 2008, when he closed it to focus on the Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite
(now entitled Fiery Foods & BBQ Central), his huge, highly trafficked website with 600+ articles and thousands of recipes. His best-selling books include The Pepper Garden
(gardening guide, 1993), The Hot Sauce Bible
(food history/cookbook, 1996), The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia
(reference, 1999) The Spicy Food Lover’s Bible
(food history, cookbook, 2005). He continues to write books about chile peppers and spicy food, including The Complete Chile Pepper Book
(gardening guide/cookbook, 2009), co-authored with Dr. Paul Bosland, the renowned chile pepper breeder at New Mexico State University. Dave also wrote, hosted and co-produced, with the NMSU media arts department, the first video documentary on chile peppers, “Heat Up Your Life.” National TV appearances for Dave include “The Martha Stewart Show,” “American Journal,” Cable News Network, “The Today Show,” “Home with Gary Collins,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “Mythbusters,” “Extreme Conventions” on the Travel Channel, along with numerous Food Network appearances. He has also been featured in The New Yorker
, The New York Times
, USA Today
, American Way
, and approximately 300 newspapers and magazines across the country. Publishers Weekly
has dubbed him “a veteran spice-meister.” Several years later, Dave received his ultimate accolade from no less than The New York Times
that declared him to be “The Pope of Peppers.” Dave lives with his wife, Mary Jane Wilan, in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with a Doberman, two Cornish Rex cats, his garden, and his greenhouse.
B.A. University of Virginia, 1966
M.A. University of Richmond, 1967
–President and CEO ,Sunbelt Shows, Inc.
–Member and former Chair, Governing Board of Regents, New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, Las Cruces
–Associate Professor, Adjunct Faculty, College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University
–Co-Producer, National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show, now in its 28th year
–Co-Producer, Scovie Awards Competition, a contest for hot & spicy and BBQ products, now in its 19th year
–Publisher, Fiery Foods Central at www.FieryFoodsCentral.com; Burn Blog, at www.Burn-Blog.com.
More than 50 books published, mostly on chile peppers and fiery foods, but also including novels, food histories, and a travel guide. For a complete list, go here.
1999. Winner, Best Spice Book in English, World Cookbook Awards at Versailles, for The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia.
2000. Finalist, James Beard Awards, for A World of Curries.
2006. Finalist, IACP Cookbook Awards, for The Spicy Food Lover’s Bible.
2008. Winner, Best Cookbook, New Mexico Book Awards, for Cuisines of the Southwest.
2008. Winner, Best Adventure Novel, New Mexico Book Awards, for Avenging Victorio.
2010. Winner, Best New Mexico Book, New Mexico Book Awards, for The Complete Chile Pepper Book.
2011. Winner, Best Cooking Book, New Mexico Book Awards, for The Southwest Table (tie).
2011. Winner, Best Cooking Book, New Mexico Book Awards, for 1001 Best Hot & Spicy Recipes (tie).
2015. Winner, Best Culinary History, IACP Awards, for Precious Cargo: How Foods From the Americas Changed the World.
2015. Winner, Best Business Book, New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards for Microfarming for Profit: From Garden to Glory.
Video Projects Published:
Heat Up Your Life, a 3-part, 2:45 video documentary on chile peppers and spicy foods, NMSU. Writer, on-camera host, and co-producer
Curator, “Edward S. Curtis in New Mexico,” Albuquerque Museum, 1984