How To Win A Chili Cookoff?

Make the best chili…  of course.

Several years ago in support of the Chambersburg Noontime Lions club, we decided to enter the 2011 Annual Icefest chili cookoff.   The entry specified 20 gallons of chili so we knew we had our work cut out for us.

I did a couple of test cooks ahead of time and settled on this recipe from Guy Fieri which we modified a bit, added a few ingredients including my own smoked chipotle chili powder and then multiplied times 10.

Assembling ingredients took multiple trips to 3 different grocery stores as apparently everyone else in town was also buying poblano and anaheim peppers and the supply was short.

Spices and meat purchases took a bite out of the budget…

Add in some tomato paste, tomato puree and beans

We spent several evenings doing prep work at home… I think real chefs call it Mise en place

My wife is food service manager at Rhodes Grove Camp so we had access to their commercial kitchen and arrived early Saturday morning to begin the actual cooking process.

We had several inspectors stop in to check on our progress…

Final steps before filling sheet pans and heading to the cookoff tent…





Finally some photos of our table in preparation, Lions Jim Whitelock, Doug Harmon and Jim Fegan along with the crowds… and we were busy.

And then most importantly… The WIN!   1st place in the amateur division and also the audience favorite award.