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Chili Cookoffs in CT?

I'm looking for a chili cookoff open to outsiders that is preferably not a professional, sanctioned event.
The reason being that I want to get my feet wet in a low pressure environmet, where I am not necessarily up against seasoned veterans of the chili wars.
Sanctioned events are so strict and they expect a very specific type of chili, too. Not that I can't and don't do something that would qualify but I have my own style which I'm not sure fits into the narrow window of what they look for. Plus, I want locals to try my chili and see if it is well accepted here. It has been gobled up at parties I've thrown. I know of two friendly competitions in the New Haven area and usually there's 10-20 participants. I'm not sure if I want to disclose those, myself, as I think I would stick out like a sore thumb and be immediately identifiable, if someone wanted to make the connection. I want to preserve what little CH anonimity I can (re, local restaurant people who frequent CH).
Anyone know of decent-sized cook-offs open to the public? Please, no church cookoffs, and the like, that are for members, and not advertised openly to the public. Thanks!

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  1. I can't help you...but I want to try your chili after reading your post!!!

    3 Replies
    1. re: rizzo0904

      You took the words right out of my mouth!

      1. re: karlssoni

        Well, thanks to both of you. Perhaps I should forget the cookoffs and just have a chili party for Chowhounders? Not sure if SO would allow it at the house....
        BTW, how far would you drive for "unknown chili"? Wouldn't some credentials help, like, winner of Nacogdoches, Save the Frogs, Chili Festival and Fundraiser?

        1. re: Scargod

          I know somebody who has won (more than once?) a chili cookoff in Newport, which is about a 45 minute drive for me. I haven't even bothered to track down the winning concoction. Hmmm...maybe this summer.

    2. The Knights of Columbus in Wallingford has been having a chilli cookoff for about 15 years. It is held on the Sunday before SuperBowl each year. (no football that day). It usually gets between 18 to 22 participants. It is open to the public. Small entry fee ($10 I think) and tasters pay $5 (inc beer, wine and soda). Can't beat it. Call them in December for entry forms. 203-269-5510

      3 Replies
      1. re: Babs

        Perfect! Thanks Babs. For someone who has been sitting in the audience for a while and not being very vocal, you have good stuff to say, when you do say it. Thanks again.

        1. re: Scargod

          Hey, want a little New Mexico competition? Can you put me up?
          The Chimayo Kid

        2. re: Babs

          Is anyone familiar with the Knights of Columbus Chili Cookoff Babs mentioned? I heard the Wallingford KoC sold their building and the phone number is no longer in service.

          Are the Knights of Columbus in Wallingford still hosting this event? Any info out there?

        3. I expanded my search to all of New England and now have a "user content" map on Google Maps: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?oe=utf...
          I would appreciate any additions you come up with.

          (As Jfood would say) Scargod knows a person who was just in a local chili cookoff recently and wants to tell you about him.
          This guy was invited to participate in an organization's chili cookoff where there were eight or nine of the contestants making meat-based chili. Others made veggie chili. There were four categories to award prizes in: "like your mother would make", "most unusual flavor", "spiciest" and "best overall". This dude won three of the four categories and had the only chili where all of it was eaten. Practically licked clean. I heard he had never entered a chili cookoff before, too!
          He did not win overall best chili for some odd reason. He was not a local. He was from another planet, I think. I think he offended the locals by suggesting that they would be sissies if they put beans in his chili. See the photo. All the other chilis had beans in them and a couple had corn, too! He grumbled, "Ick!" It nearly made him gag. He tried all the (ahem) "chili", and found some to be watery, like soup, or very sweet or almost pure tomato sauce. He had trouble eating some of it. Many it seemed to him, were light on the chili powder but big on heat. He found that odd. He thought that a lot of Tobasco sauce or cayenne went into some of them. One had huge chunks of tomatoes and bell peppers. "Vegetable Stew", I heard him mutter. One was even white, with huge butter beans! He didn't understand that one being allowed into competition, but he realized there were really no rules; it was just a friendly affair.
          Anyway, he had fun and many lavished praise on him for the best chili they had eaten in a long time.
          Scargod is jealous....

          3 Replies
          1. re: Scargod

            I know what chili cook-off you are talking about. It's pretty low-key, home cooks and not at all the big time, but it's fun and there are good prizes for the winners.

            Vegetarian and meat chilis are offered, and people do creative things, like white chicken chili and root-vegetable chili. It's not a purist event.

            Please don't knock it. If you can't take it in the spirit of good fun, don't go.

            1. re: shoes

              I don't want to upset you or anyone with my comments. SO and I had a great time and the people were all wonderful, warm and friendly. I tried to do the Chowhound thing and keep my criticism to the food, not the people. I was being somewhat facetious.
              Chili tastes are so varied it is easy to get into an argument over what is acceptable or GOOD. Even my brothers and I argue and two of them have won chili cookoffs! One called theirs "Anal Grief Chili". Some of my family members say beans are OK.
              Incidentally, the white "chili" with the gigantic butter beans was one of my favorites and didn't win. I also liked the sweet potato veggie chili. It almost seemed like it had meat in it!

            2. re: Scargod

              sound like "he" had fun!!! Maybe "he" should try this one next year...

            3. Delaney's in Westville has a chili contest in the summer

              1 Reply
              1. re: EastRocker

                I was going to enter in 2007 and got the date wrong. I showed up with my application the day of the event and it was almost over! I was so pissed I didn't even try any of it. You have to make two gallons, in their kitchen...
                PS: It's on my chili map.

              2. According to this announcement, you're just in time for:

                Old Saybrook presents their 13th Annual Chili Fest!!!!
                February 28th, 2009; 12:00-3:00 pm
                Come walk along our quaint main street and enjoy samples of a wide varity of chili prepared by our own local businesses. Visit our shops and indulge your sweet tooth at Sugarplums Candy Store or stop in at the local pub and make a toast with a fine wine or a cool frosty pint of beer.

                We went last year. Not many unusual recipes, but some were pretty good.

                1. And in the paper today:
                  App's Restaurant (283 Captain Thomas Blvd., West Haven, 203-932-1657) is holding its fifth annual chili cook-off Feb. 28 1-4 pm to benefit Savin Rock Fireworks. Judges and guests vote on their favorites. $5 admission lets you vote and get drink specials. Live bands as well.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: DonShirer

                    Tex, there's one in Bethel, Me in March. Chile and ski. May not be Taos, but is among the best in the east, just like your "chili".
                    google Maine chili cook offs

                  2. I have been a ICS (International Chili Society) cook for the past three years. I can understand your reluctance to get involved in a sanctioned event. Here are some facts regarding cooking at a ICS Cook-off. Chili cooks are very helpful and will share recipes, techniques and ingredients with new cooks. There is also a catagory for "Rookie" cooks.
                    Competing with some of the best Chili cooks in the world is a great way to be the best! In my first year, I placed second (twice) for my Green Chili, once for my Red Chili, and 1st with my Salsa, which entered me in the World Cook-off in Omaha. There is some confusion with competition Chili. At these events, there are two different red Chiles cooked. The red competition Chili and "People's Choice" Chili, which is the standard chopped beef and bean Chili. That Chili is served to the public, who purchase tasting kits (monies raised go to local charities) and vote for the best Chili. Competition Chilies (Red and Green) are cooked for the judges. After the judging, your chili can be critiqued by the head judge, a former world champ. He will give you many tips to help in future events. There are two ICS cook-off held in CT. One, May 2nd 2009 in Somers and on in New Haven in the fall. I just returned from the first RI Chili Cook-off (the last state to hold an event) where I competed against 7 former world champs, as well as many who have competed there. One of the cooks recieved an award for cooking in all 50 states. I placed 2nd in Salsa, 5th with Green (Chili Verde.) My red still needs some work! Again, the events support many worth-while charities. Although these cook-offs can be a bit costly, the fun and friendships made are well worth it! Why not give it a shot?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Mad Hatter

                      I was going to attend the RI affair to experience another sanctioned event. I got to feeling puny so I didn't. Missed the local one in West Haven, too (same day).
                      One day I might enter. It will require investing in a tent, tables, cooking gear and portable stove. I do not have a vehicle large enough to haul all of it. I suppose you need to stay somewhere for one or two nights, too. This is no simple matter...
                      PS: I didn't see any info for an upcoming New Haven event, when I last looked. And thanks a lot for all the input. I emailed ICS twice about who qualifies/how you get to the finals. Beyond rules about making chili, they're a little skimpy, on their website, about competition rules, advancing; the procedural stuff.

                    2. Scargod, here's some food for thought re chili competitions from today's Hartford Courant--"A Winning Chili Chef Shares His Secrets"--enjoy:

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: kattyeyes

                        Old thread, I know, but there's a cookoff in Somers tomorrow

                        1. re: kattyeyes

                          Thanks for sharing. I was at the cookoff year before last and really enjoyed it. There's live music. The hot pepper eating contest is a hoot. This guy is a fireman and that's a habanero. He's a professional....don't try this at home! BTW, he came in second; a young kid beat him.

                        2. I know this is an old post, but one that I remembered. FOr those of you interested, I just read that Liquid Lunch will be hosting a Chili Cook-Off to benefit the CT Burns Care Foundation, Inc. It is going to be held on Saturday, April 24, 2010 from 11-4 at Liquid's Six Research Drive location in Shelton, CT in the Corporate Towers. I'm trying to get more information on it, like who is allowed to enter, how you go about it, etc. But I wanted to toss it out there. As I find out more or if anyone else does, let us know.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: cheereeo

                            I am unable to attach the flyers for the Liquid Lunch Cookoff, but I can ell you this: Rain-or-Shine, Indoor Event at Research Drive location. $25 entry fee; 1st prize $100; 2nd prize $200; 3rd prize $300; Winner gets their chili served at Liquid Lunch's Shelton and Milford restaurants. Admission is $5 pp or $10 per family of four. Saturday, April 24, Noon-5 PM. Cooks (regular at-home cooks and professional chefs) arrive at 8AM, cooking begins at 9AM and must prepare everything in the Liquid Lunch kitchen and bring their own pots and cooking utensils and must clean cooking area. All ingredients must be uncooked. Judging begins at 12:30 by area chili aficionados who will judge based on taste, aroma and consistency. Peoples choice award is also available for the regular visitors to judge on. Entertainment, Raffle and Magic Show and possibly Craft Vendors. Proceeds benefits CT Burns Care Foundation and Arthur C Luf Children's Burn Camp. More info at www.ctburnsfoundation.org, but I haven't seen anything posted there yet.

                            1. re: cheereeo

                              Hot Dog! This sounds interesting. I recently placed in a small local cook-off with my “All Wrong Chili” (chili verde). I cleaned house last year with my red. I need to move up and play with the big boys. http://www.newhavenindependent.org/in...

                              1. re: cheereeo

                                Ditto! Hey, did they ask you where were the kidney beans?!
                                Carpe chile!

                            2. It is an old post, but since it's been resurrected.....the Georgetown (CT) Day festivities include a chili contest. For the last several years, the celebration has taken place on the second Sunday in June. We've managed to miss it every year, so I can't give you any more info about the contest, but I'm sure some digging (The Redding Pilot archives?) will turn up some info.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: hungrykids

                                i'm excited to check out a new chili cook-off in providence next weekend...


                              2. There is a chili cook off this weekend in Danbury.

                                The Ice Arena - 1 Independence Way in Danbury. Sunday 1-4 p.m. $5, $15 per family of three or more.203-790-8342, 203-794-1704