Maria Leonard's blend of mangoes and jalape-os captured first place in the salsa competition at Sunday's Salsa y Salsas festival.
"I use all fresh ingredients from the area," Leonard said. "It's hard to find good mangoes."
A similar blend of sweet and spicy dancing won over the crowd during the salsa dance competition. Applause determined brother-and-sister-dancing-duo Ivan, 21, and Gisela Ochoa, 27, from Carson City, the winners.
Although the two grew up dancing the salsa in Mexico, they hadn't danced together until the competition.
"It's incre'ble," Ivan said between gasps of breath.
Thousands of people crowded the Legislative Plaza for the seventh annual Salsa y Salsas fiesta.
Music from live mariachi bands filled the air, mingling with the aroma of fresh-cooked tacos.
"We feel like Mexicans here," said Julio Estrada, 30, who moved to the United States when he was 15. "We have Cinco de Mayo and this."
The festival featured booths from local businesses as well as entertainment from the area.
Karla Valverde, a 2003 Carson High School graduate, invited children up on stage to dance with her during several of her singing performances.
"I think it keeps their tradition going," she said.
Mayor Ray Masayko briefly addressed the crowds, welcoming them to the festival in their native language.
"Bienvenido a Salsa y Salsas," he said. "I'll do the rest in English.
"I ask the people of Carson City to pause and learn more about Hispanic heritage during this Hispanic Heritage Month."
Master of Ceremonies Adolfo Segura announced that Hispanics now make up the largest minority population in the United States and urged them to become involved in politics and education.
He also thanked those who were not of Hispanic descent for their interest in the festival.
Willow Evans, a special education aide at Bordewich-Bray, was one of those.
"We have a large English-as-a-second language population at the school and it's fun to see what they're doing on their days off," she said. "Plus, I love the food."
As the band played, Jason Martinez, 9, paused from a game of tag on the lawn to break out some of his dance moves.
"I like the dancers and all this," he said. "It's cool. They're Mexicans and I'm Mexican. It's pretty tight."
Other children took their moves to the stage. Charlie Gonzalez, 11, and his cousin, Brenda Cid, 10, were the youngest competitors in the salsa dance competition. They took fourth place.
They both learned from watching family members and Charlie had some advice for other would-be salsa dancers.
"You gotta dance with the rhythm," he said. "Just move with the beat."