Enter a chili cook-off

I’m happy to announce the completion of #28: Enter a chili competition with or against Kris.

Who: 9 Fierce Competitors

What: Harris Pavilion Chili Cook-off

Where: Harris Pavilion, Old Town Manassas

When: September, 22, 2012 from 10-1. Judging at 1. Announcement of winners at 2.

Categories: Best Chili With Beans, Best Chili Without Beans, Best HOT Chili, Best Overall, and People’s Choice

The beautiful trophies

We competed together, not against each other, which was great because I don’t have my own chili recipe. Kris uses Jamie Deen’s chili recipe as the base, but he puts his own spin on it and everyone seems to love it. It consists of beef, sausage, chicken, bacon, three beans and a secret ingredient that we cannot reveal.

As we Michael Bay-slow-motion-walked to our prep table, we scoped out the competition. Oh, it’s on.

Kris, my sous chef

During our down time, we made nice with our neighbors. The competitor to our right shared a little insider secret. He pointed to a man a few tables over and told us, “he’s the reigning champion, but this year I’m going to beat him.” We chuckled and shrugged it off.

Our chili turned out spectacularly perfect. We entered the “Chili With Beans” category. While we were being judged, I got a chance to get samples of the competitors’ chilis. When I stopped at the “champion’s” table, I overheard him say he made a chili for each category — to increase his chances of winning. Clever girl…

After an hour, the judges, Redskins Marching Band members, were finally ready to deliberate.

“The best chili without beans goes to…” Who cares? It’s not us.

“The best chili WITH beans goes to…” The reigning champion wins. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

“The best hot chili goes to…” Not a category we entered, but the reigning champion wins yet again.

“The best overall chili goes to…” Our last chance to win something. Our collective hearts were pounding. The reigning champion wins again. AGAIN?!?!?! WHAT?!?!?!

So, out of five awards, three went to the same person. The Manassas chili circuit is clearly hard to break into.

A few things I learned/experienced:

1. Do a test run.

2. Do not wear your hair down during any cooking competition.

3. We were asked if we were going to sell our chili. Ha.

4. Plan beforehand.

5. Wear coordinated outfits.

6. Chili isn’t chili without beans.

7. As a lifetime loser myself, it didn’t bother me, but I think the sting of losing hurt Kris’ soul.

“Would you ever want to do this again?” I asked Kris. “No,” he said.

Been there, done that, got a “good effort” ribbon.

Before the winners were announced. My left hand looks like it’s preparing to hold a trophy.

– Lyssa


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