When Zack Hill first heard Downtown Brownwood Inc. was holding the second annual Spirit of Salsa contest, he said he didn’t think anybody’s salsa could beat his buddy Pete’s.

And when the results were in on Saturday, Pete’s Real Deal Salsa had proven Hill’s theory right.

Hill took home plaques for “Best Hot,” “Best Med” and “Best Red” and Pete’s Real Deal Salsa was also selected “Judge’s Favorite.”

“They told me they had some bad news for me when they were about to give out the prizes,” Hill said Sunday. “I thought, ‘Oh no, we didn’t win.’ Then they said the bad news was we didn’t win the green or the fruit, and I said, that’s because we didn’t enter the green or the fruit. I also said, ‘If my Aunt Dean from Gonzales, Texas, had entered, she’d have won the fruit.’”

Beverly Norris of Brownwood did enter her fruit salsa, and did win in the “Best Fruit” category. This year’s “Best Mild” went to Maicela Cantu, and Magda Rodriguez won the “Best Green” in the amateur division.

For the professional division, Brownwood Country Club (Armando Lopez, chef) won in the “Best Red” and “Best Medium” categories; The Turtle Restaurant (Miguel Hernandez, chef) won for the “Best Green” and “Best Fruit” categories; and Julio’s (Julio’s Corn Tortillas and Salsa, San Angelo) won in the “Best Hot” category.

Hill’s childhood buddy, Pete Wilkerson from Gonzales, said he began making salsa about eight years ago, “just experimenting.” He found a combination he liked and he went on to develop it into a mild, medium and hot.

“The mild’s pretty mild,” Wilkerson said, “but the hot’s pretty hot.”

About three years ago, Wilkerson opened a bar in Gonzales — Boomer’s Sports Bar. Boomer was the nickname for another childhood buddy of his and Hill’s, Wilkerson said, and when that buddy died of brain cancer he named the bar after him.

“I serve the salsa in the bar here, and people come in just for the salsa. When Zack said they were having the contest in Brownwood and he’d like to enter, I said, ‘Let’s do it.’

“I was planning on being in Brownwood for the contest, but I couldn’t. I wish I could have, though, I really do.”

Wilkerson said he uses all standard ingredients, but there are a few secrets to making the salsa.

Hill said he’d watched Wilkerson make the salsa, and knew all the ingredients.

“But I can’t make it the way my buddy can,” Hill said. “It is about the best I’ve ever tasted anywhere. We’re kind of partners and some day maybe we’ll market our own line of Pete’s Real Deal Salsa, but for right now, if people want it, they just need to go to Boomer’s Sports Bar in Gonzales, Texas, to get it.”