Tales from Two: Chilli Joe and James

By Chilli Joe Jackson, James Orr and Luisa Bustos, 16 April 2020 , Comments

The wonderful thing about humans is that each of us has unique qualities and passions. For our Coffs Harbour customer, Joe (above right), that passion is growing and eating chillies! With James, his Northcott Support Worker, Joe has been developing a deeper interest in chillies. The pair has been growing chilli plants, filming and editing videos about eating chillies, honing Joe’s ability to eat the hottest chilli varieties available, and preparing Joe to compete in chilli-eating competitions.

Recently Joe and James travelled to Kingscliff, near the Queensland border, to see Joe compete in a chilli eating competition. Read on below to see how the competition turned out and what else Joe and James do together.

James: I began supporting Joe — also known as Chilli Joe / The Chilli Man — nearly two years ago. My first impression of Joe was that he was a good person, although shy, reserved and somewhat stand-offish. He possibly had never had the right support to really see him achieve his goals. He was also living alone, which I didn’t think was good for him.

Joe told me about his passion for chillies. He had begun to garden at his parents’ house and had planted a few things. He was very interested in the very hot plants.

I gave Joe his own plot at the community garden to grow whatever he wanted – which, of course, was chillies! Each Monday I take Joe to the garden. I have also filmed him doing his chilli challenges, helped make the videos and provided support and encouragement. I also take Joe to Bunnings to buy things for gardening.

Joe also loves to go fishing with me, play pool and eat chilli Thai food together.

During our time working together, Joe has grown and developed immensely. His self confidence has skyrocketed. From the more withdrawn, shy man I met, he has now grown into a confident young man who is willing to try new things and try to reach towards his potential. The chilli eating, making videos and entering competitions is a direct sign of this positive growth. I’m very happy and proud that Joe has been able to achieve this.

Some of Joe’s goals include making some friends in the community and getting sponsorship for his chilli eating. He wants to make his YouTube videos more popular, which may lead to other developments in his chilli eating. It is entirely up to Joe and what he is happy and comfortable with.

And no! I have NEVER come across anyone – customer or not – who has this totally unique passion for chillies!

Joe: I work with James once a week. The first time I met him, he was friendly and we had a good time going fishing and playing pool. He was a nice guy.

James and I do activities together in the community. I enjoy going fishing, playing pool, going to the community gardens and being filmed eating chillies. James has a plot at the community garden and we grow chillies.

I’ve always had a bit of a passion for chillies. I started getting James to film me eating them, then we put the videos online, which started to develop a following.

James has supported my chilli passion by thinking of new ideas for videos and filming them, whilst encouraging me to keep pushing through the burn.

Being known as ‘Chilli Joe’ is a great honour to me and encourages me to be the best chilli eater in the world one day.

At the chilli eating contest at Kingscliff, it was a great time. There were lots of stalls selling chilli products. I was most excited about the two contests. This was my first time competing but I was confident because of all the training I had done.

It all paid off when I won both competitions. The first competition I won was a speed round where another guy and I raced to see who could finish two big mild chillies first. The second competition involved eating hot sauces, then fresh Scorpions and Carolina Reapers [chilli varieties]. I won when the last person still standing couldn’t go on any more!

You can see more of Chilli Joe on YouTube and Facebook by searching for ‘Chilli Joe Jackson’.

Related content

Our customer Paul and his Northcott Support Worker Joanne are also from Coffs Harbour. They shared their passion for creating art together in a Tales from Two.

Want to read more from our Tales from Two series? See Nathan and Mathew, Will and Anno and Mia and Zenna.

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