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Chili Cookoff Question

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I am having a chili cookoff next weekend, and it will be my second one. I am currently working out judging strategy, and I was hoping to get some comments or advice from you guys.
Everyone who comes gets a vote, which can be tricky. Last year, we bought a bunch of those small styrofoam cups, and had people get small tasting portions of each chili, and from that they picked their top three favorite, and went back to have full bowls of them. Then they voted from there for the top chili.
Obviously I want this to run as smoothly as possible, so if anyone has any better strategy, please let me know!
Thanks!

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  1. Small portions are definitely a good idea since you don't want people filling up too quickly. It also lets you quickly eliminate those that aren't good and allows you to focus on the ones that are.

    I don't think eating a full bowl the second round is a good idea, though. I know I can only eat maybe two bowls of chili at a sitting, so maybe make the second round portions smaller. You can still get a feel for what's good without eating a ton of it.

    Sounds like fun!

    1. Foodrocks, You might also want to establish "the ground rules".
      At the national championship, no beans are allowed. (Historically chili did not contain beans and certainly not pasta!) Also, most winning recipes do not use hamburger, they use steak. If your guests bring "Cincinnati Chili" with pasta, etc, judge accordingly...

      1. The contests I've been to usually have a people's choice award as well as a official judges award, for which they seem to have lots of volunteers (cool bragging rights).