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TEMPO Network CEO/founder Frederick Morton displays the famous Trinidad Moruga Scorpion hot pepper during a tour of the scorpion pepper field at Kingdom Hall Avenue, Matura on Wednesday.

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Known as the only pan-Caribbean entertainment television channel to create a passport to all things Caribbean, Tempo Network has now teamed up with American-based Complex Networks and FilmTT to launch in Trinidad and Tobago—Hot Ones Caribbean Edition—a localised version of the US YouTube entertainment hit series—Hot Ones.

Scheduled for a June premiere, the show, hosted by American YouTuber Sean Evans, which features celebrities invited to chomp down on chicken wings laced with pepper sauce that goes from low to the hottest intensity, while they talk about their lives and careers, will now take a Caribbean spin with local celebrities in the “hot” seat.

Tempo founder and CEO Frederick Morton said bringing the popular show to the Caribbean and more specifically to T&T was just a natural progression.

“The Caribbean is so much known as a hot place. It just struck me as like the right thing for the region,” he said.

But in addition to the climate and the “hot vibe” of its people, making T&T the perfect candidate Morton, who took Guardian Media on a trip to a Matura pepper farm where we were introduced to the indigenous Moruga Scorpion Pepper and its family members—the Scorpion Butch T and the Moruga Red—all having starring roles in the local series, said with the island being home to these ‘hot’ treasures, it did not take much to persuade Complex Network, to expand to T&T shores.

“We’re here in Trinidad and of course it is home to the scorpion pepper. So I put all of that together. I made that call to the folks at Complex who I knew…made the pitch…I created a pilot locally. It is a hot pilot, done with a local comedian, and one of your local talents here, and I talked it through with Complex.

“We had several conversations and over a period of several months, we came to an agreement that the Caribbean was the right place to bring Hot Ones,” Morton explained.

While the show might provide laughter from watching local celebrities pant after tasting pepper sauce offerings from manufactures in T&T and the region.

When asked what more can Hot Ones do for T&T, Morton said it was poised to boost business in the spheres of trade, tourism, and especially agriculture.

“The opportunity here is vast. This show impacts so many industries in the Caribbean, particularly an industry I feel needs a lot more attention because we’re an agri-state, so to speak…a region. And the agricultural industry has not gotten the spotlight that it deserves and we ought to give the farmers and all the folks that work in the industry…the manufacturers, food, because we need food security right.

“We’re in the midst of a pandemic, you can’t afford to import everything…you have to elevate things that will feed your populace,” Morton said.

Morton said Hot Ones reaching T&T has also already created total-local employment.

“The entire team is local. My entire production crew is a complete local team.

“Big up the whole Hot Ones Tempo Trinidad team. And that’s from production to legal, to marketing to sales, to PR…totally local. And of course, they’re attached to my regional team and my international team. So lots of opportunities,” he boasted.

Guardian Media also got the opportunity to meet and chat with Sharon Chautilal, director of the family-owned and local manufactured Habanero Trinidad Pepper Sauce, who said when the company got the call to have the brand featured in Hot Ones, they were ecstatic.

“We were thrilled because we’ve been following Hot Ones, international so long. So many people contact us and say ‘aye Sharon yuh need to get the products on this.’ But it’s not that easy as you think, so when we heard, they were going to have a Hot Ones Caribbean…especially we got even more excited when we heard, they were partnering with Tempo,” Chautilal related.

She said Hot Ones opens a door for T&T to sell an experience.

“We thought that here we got an opportunity, not just to sell or market the pepper sauce, but we’re marketing our entire culture, arts and entertainment, and so on. And it aligns very well with how our company markets our products. Because we try not to just sell a pepper sauce…anybody can sell a pepper sauce. We want to sell the whole experience.”

Bertie’s Pepper Sauce, another of T&T’s locally manufactured brands, will also star in the Hot Ones Caribbean series along with Barbados’ Old Duppy and US Virgin island’s, Alvin’s Hot Pepper Sauce.

While chicken wings might be synonymous with Hot Ones, don’t think for a second it will be the only bite featured. Morton said in addition to exhibiting the beauty and history of the country, Hot Ones would also showcase T&T’s culinary diversity.

“We will go out into the streets to make sure it’s not just about hot wings, but it’s about pholourie, it’s about doubles, it about jerk chicken…all the stuff that we’re known for, not just the hot wings.”