Carson chef spices it up with a salsa world championship victory |

Carson chef spices it up with a salsa world championship victory

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer

Eight years ago, John Ammerman started tinkering around with his own version of salsa.

All he wanted, the chef for Glen Eagles said, was to find something that tasted good. Not wanting to mess with a good thing, that original recipe has remained largely unchanged.

Saturday, that recipe – named Eagle Squat Salsa – received the title of World Champion.

Ammerman was among the 125 cooks in Omaha, Neb., at the World’s Championship Chili Cookoff.

Ammerman, who only began entering his salsa for competition last year, made the final table with several former world champions.

“It was kind of dumbfounding. I was just awestruck to be around people who’ve been doing it for that long, and being able to watch what they do,” Ammerman said.

He said he went into the competition just for the experience and called his chances of actually winning, “impossible.”

“There’s a lot of people there who have been working on it for a lot of years, so I figured the odds were greatly in their favor,” Ammerman said.

Glen Eagles General Manager Vicki Shell said she knew Ammerman would do well.

“He’s only competed twice before the World Championships, but he’s such a good chef that we knew he’d do well,” Shell said.

In order to qualify for the World’s Championships, a chili or salsa must take top honors at an International Chili Society sanctioned event.

Ammerman’s salsa took first place at the Chili Cookoff fundraiser at Glen Eagles in July.

Ammerman’s secret to first-time success?

“Fresh is the word,” he said. “Fresh-looking, fresh-tasting, just overall as fresh as you can make it.”

While there are no exact measurements for the 12-ingredient salsa, it includes tomatoes, onions, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, salt and several secret ingredients.

Eagle Squat Salsa will be added to the appetizer menu at Glen Eagles.

As for next year, Ammerman said he plans to defend his title in salsa and branch out into the red chili category.

“I’m not messing with the salsa, although it’s hard to replicate an exact batch because of the ripeness of tomatoes and the heat of the jalapeños,” Ammerman said.

“Really, it’s just 50 percent a good recipe and 50 percent luck,” he confessed.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.