This all started in 2004 on a trip to Halifax..

That year became a turning point in my life, in so many ways. One of those ways came about as the result of a trip to Halifax to spend time with my brother to celebrate my birthday.

In an ongoing effort to expand my world, he had encouraged me to make the trip - going from the small town I live in to the city with an agenda to introduce me to the foods of different cultures. Just down the road from where he was living at the time was a place called "Taj Mahal" - a restaurant serving up authentic Indian cuisine - which ranked at the top of his iternary.

Upon arrival, being seated, and receiving our menus my brother - as a regular to the restaurant - casually made his choice from the menu and encouraged me to look through and make a choice, as well. Clueless as I was, he suggested a few items on the menu that would have been on the milder end. Feeling I could trust in his taste, and wanting to limit risk at getting something I may not enjoy, I opted to follow suit and chose to go with the same menu item as he had selected. He was quick to try and dissuade me from that choice by pointing out that it was the spiciest item on their menu and that he had built up his tolerance to the heat by reqular visits to the restaurant - he even went so far as to try and enlist the waiter to provide a supportive warning.

Stubborn, as is my nature, and after a little further persistent effort on his part to change my mind, I held firm to my decision before he finally moved on. Rounding out our order, we ordered drinks and he bragged up the restaurant's unique specialty stone-baked flat bread - which we also ordered and split between us. I make mention of the bread because as simple and common as bread is often taken to be, this particular bread was rather magnificent - and enough that even years later I wish I could experience it again.

I admit that when our food first arrived I was a bit intimidated - having no clue what to even expect, seeing as I knew nothing of Indian cuisine and here I had ordered a very spicy curry. Yet, digging in I quickly discovered not only a newfound favorite food, but also something more important - a fondness for the heat. That feeling was curiously intoxicating and I quickly had something else that was newfound - a courage to amp up that heat level. Despite already sweating up a storm, and my brother's renewed protests, I asked him if there was a way to add to the heat level. He said it was possible, and after some insistence on my part, he put in a request and our waiter brought over a couple different sauces in small cups.

One of these sauces was green in color, while the other was blue, and I was advised to try them out very sparingly - with one being more intense than the other. With little patience, at first I followed the advice but quickly found myself going all-in with these sauces and yet - I was still craving more of that heat. At this point, I was feeling an energy coursing through me that had me feeling happy and light-headed, and with a one-track-mind I insisted - now against the protests of both my brother and waiter - that I be brought more heat. There was only one option left that they described as being the "pits of chili peppers".

The waiter expressed caution and that I only add a very small bit to my plate, and - of course - I opted to ignore that suggestion. Mixing the chili paste in with the rest of my meal, I dived in thinking it would not phase me anymore than the sauces had - and I was mistaken. It had kicked the heat up a notch that I simply was not ready for, resulting in pauses of minutes between each bite. After just a few I had to submit and by that point my meal had gone cold - telling of how long we had been there, and how much patience my brother had shown in tolerating my stubbornness.

That happy, light-headed feeling I had experienced? The memory of how that felt stayed with me after that night and, coupled with discovering that I love Indian curry, I found myself looking to make curry at home to try and chase that feeling.

In the years to follow, curry became part of my routine and I'd built up a tolerance to the heat, but somehow had yet to consider delving into chilis, except for my occasional venture to Subway where I would have them pile on the pickled JalapeƱo and banana peppers. By that point, my tolerance had grown to the point where it felt impossible for my subs to go beyond a passing mild grade of heat level. That built-up tolerance and my still-constant craving for more heat, though, would inevitably point me in the right direction.

That would come about somewhere around 2011-2012, when one day I was casually browsing the produce section of a local grocery store. Glancing at the varieties of peppers they had available, and only expecting to see the typical mild varieties (which I never bothered to try), it caught my eye to spot they were selling Habaneros. Being one to read up on random topics, and to watch different documentaries, I had heard tell of them - yet had never thought they would make their way to my small county.

I bought a pack, took them home, and tried out adding them to different meals - curry, omelettes, burgers - only to find that though the heat presented a brand new challenge, I was no fan of the flavor. Despite that, this had sparked an interest into a further curiosity over the next few months into reading up about chilis and the history behind them.

It was through this pursuit that some months later, in 2012, that I started seeing all these videos on YouTube of people melodramatically reacting to what they were calling a "Ghost Pepper". From the sparse, all-too-often, inaccurate information these people were providing I felt edged on to do put in my own research - especially where they told tales of them being vastly hotter than even the Habanero. It was from here that I came to discover their origins in India, which only served to further invest my interest given my love of curry, but also my discovery that in recent years the Ghost pepper had a part in sparking the discovery and creation of even hotter chili varieties.

I began to discover I had only scrapped the surface until then, coming across details on Trinidad Scorpions, Carolina Reaper, Naga Viper, and so many others. It was around this same time that, while browsing through the produce aisle of another grocery store, I found myself rather shocked to discover something I thought would always be a world away - Ghost peppers. I was skeptical, where my research over all those months had shown that so many people mislabel different varieties - in stores, videos, even on TV shows. Not to pass up the opportunity, I grabbed a pack, and once my friend and I got back to her place I decided to give one a try.

Siding with the thought that these peppers were probably mislabeled, I went all-in and ate one whole. I took my time and found it had a bit of a bite to it, but still believed it was nothing special - until around three minutes later when I came to the realisation that this pepper had a heat that was a slow-build. I went in thinking it would be a mild pepper and came out the other side dealing with a raging fire that had running for the milk.

The slow-build, the intense heat unlike anything I had experienced before, and the sweet flavor of that Ghost pepper did it - I decided I needed these in my life and the way to ensure that would be to start growing my own. Taking seeds from one of the others in that pack I planted my very first pepper seeds and that led me down the path of looking to find if I could get my hands on seeds for other varieties. My passion had found its' roots, leading to where I am now.