'Fear Factor' wants Hokitika's wild foods

04.02.2003 11.17 am New Zealand Herald

The makers of hit United States television show Fear Factor want a slice of Kiwiana from the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival to spice up their programme.

Festival organiser Mike Keenan said Fear Factor producers in California were keen on trying some of the West Coast food on contestants in its next series.

Fear Factor contestants can win up to US$50,000 (NZ$92,988) for eating disgusting foods and attempting difficult stunts.

"They were interested in sphagnum moss, ponga fronds and huhu grub," Mr Keenan said.

"We are too busy to check with Ministry of Agriculture staff at the moment but we'll look into it after the festival."

Fear Factor's Los Angeles producer Rich Brown said he had heard about the West Coast event and they were looking for new "gross and disgusting" new delicacies for their next series.

More than 20,000 people are expected to attend the 14th annual festival at Hokitika on March 8 which includes food some people may struggle to stomach.

On offer next month are bulls' penises, sheep eyes, pig offal, scorpions, worms, seagull eggs, horse meat, rams' balls, grasshoppers, sphagnum moss, snails, rams' testicles, slugs and ponga fronds.

Nine of the country's top chefs will be cooking off for the New Zealand Wildfoods Festival Chef of the Year title.

The chefs are required to produce a mouth-watering two-course meal within an hour, Mr Keenan said.