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Jun 3, 2008 02:01 PM

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?

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            1. I expanded my search to all of New England and now have a "user content" map on Google Maps:
              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...