Where garlic breath reigns supreme: The Gilroy Garlic Festival turns 40

Friday, July 27, 2018
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The Gilroy Garlic Festival 2018 kicked off this Friday. The three-day fest is partying like it's 1979 as it celebrates four decades of family fun.

GILROY, Calif. (KGO) -- So this is 40. The Gilroy Garlic Festival is partying like it's 1979, celebrating four decades of family fun.

More than 100,000 people are expected to walk through the gates during the three-day event happening this Friday through Sunday July 27-29..

The big attraction is "Gourmet Alley." That's where everything is prepared: the meat, the herbs, the sauces.

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And of course, the Pyro Chefs, selling the sizzle of the festival.

Head scampi and calamari chef Steve Janisch, known as "Hot Legs," has been cooking here for 37 years.

"The festival probably really in a lot of ways, probably put Gilroy on the map for all intents and purpose. Yeah, it's world famous," Janisch said.

The festival now attracts celebrity chefs.

"MasterChef" winner Shaun O'Neale will be hosting the first-ever Garlic Chef Junior contest for kids under 18.

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He'll also be doing a cooking demonstration today featuring 50 cloves of garlic in his "hot chicken" recipe.

"I love the Garlic Festival," O'Neale said. "The community-driven aspect of this. The charity aspect is absolutely amazing. It's a one of a kind event."

Charities are the big winner. They've received more than $11.5 million since 1979.

Four thousand people volunteer each year.

"My daughter and my grandkids are working here today," Gilroy resident Linda Valdez said.

"It's a family thing here, huh?" ABC7 asked.

"Yes it is," she said.