A Bowl of Red for A Chili-head!
A Bowl of Red for A Chili-head!
by William L. Bulla
"A Bowl of Red for a Chili-head!" Ever hear that statement before? Well, chili lovers have! For chili lovers (Chili-heads) there are few things in this world more beautiful that a steaming hot bowl of great chili (bowl of red).
And chili-heads across the tri-state area will have the opportunity to check out the great chili recipes being prepared at the Hagerstown Suns Second Annual Chili Cook-off, September 24, in Hagerstown. Individuals and organizations may enter the Cook-off to establish their bragging rights as the cook with the best chili recipe. An entry fee of $25 is charged for the individual, and $50 for an organization, and all contestants are responsible for their own ingredients and cooking facilities. First place, as decided by the official Chili Cook-off judges, will receive $1000 cash prize. The second and third places will receive smaller cash prizes. A Peoples Choice Award will also be given.
Chili Cook-offs, while not unique to many areas of the country, are a great way to raise funds for non-profits in the community.
Last year's successful Cook-off, raised more than $18,000 for the Community Free Clinic. This year, the Hagerstown Suns baseball team will, once again, turn its thoughts from the game to raising funds for a local not-for-profit organization.
"We would like to surpass our $25,000 goal," said Kurt Landes, Hagerstown Suns General Manager. "We hope this will become a staple annual event like the Blues Fest and the Augustfest now being enjoyed in Hagerstown. It's a great way to help raise funds for our not-for-profit organizations in Washington County," he said.
"This year's recipient, the Washington County Arts Council, will use the funds to help local arts organizations in the county with matching grants to advance art education," Landes continued.
The history of chili cook-offs begins with the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI), which was the first organization to support the notion that chili is more than just meat and peppers. CASI considers it "a way of life." The Chili Appreciation Society was founded in 1951 by George Haddaway and Jim Fuller to "improve the quality of chili in restaurants and broadcast Texas-style recipes all over the earth." When chapters began to form in other countries, the word "International" was added to the name.
In 1967, after an article appeared in Esquire magazine, CASI held the first chili cook-off in the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas. The event pitted Wick Fowler, inventor of the "Two-Alarm Chili" Mix, against Dave Chasen of Beverly Hills. Chasen became ill and was replaced by humorist H. Allen Smith who had written an article in Holiday Magazine that year entitled, "Nobody Knows More About Chili Than I Do."
The first cook-off was declared a draw by the referee, Frank Tolbert, author of a book being promoted at the event. Titled "A Bowl of Red," the book was a history of chili con carne. After each contestant had received one vote each, the third judge declared Smith had paralyzed his taste buds with his hot recipe and would not vote, so referee Tolbert called it a tie.
The chili cook-off phenomenon began to grow. Today, chili cook-offs are conducted throughout the world. Many of them are planned to allow amateur chefs to exercise their bragging rights by getting out of their kitchens or backyards to showoff their recipes. So to settle the argument as to whose recipe is the best, and to generate funds for a charity, cook-offs are held.
Spectators come from miles around to watch the cooks prepare their chili recipe from scratch. After the judges reach a decision, they have the opportunity to sample the results. And that's what will happen when the chili lovers attend this cook-off!
With each adult ticket, the purchaser will receive four chili sample tickets, which will allow that person to sample four of the chili recipes prepared that day. Each child ticket will come with two chili sample tickets. Adult advance tickets may be purchased for $10 each, children for $5. On the day of the event, adult tickets will be $12 each and children $6. After the judges have determined the three top winners, the public will do their sampling of the chili recipes and cast a vote for their favorite. The recipe receiving the most popular votes will win the Peoples Choice Award. Tickets may be purchased online at www.hagerstownsuns.com/chili or by calling the Suns at 301-791-6266.
Last year's "People's Choice Award" winner, Michael Snyder plans to return this year to defend his title. "It was truly a great day. There was something there for everyone, even the kids! I'm really looking forward to this year's event," he said.
When asked about the competition he said, "Fantastic chili! I sampled the chili of my competition and it was really great!"
While the aroma of chili is attracting the crowds to watch the cooks at work, and while waiting for the sampling of the chili recipes, there are other things happening for your enjoyment that day at the stadium. There is music for the entire family and exciting activities for the children.
Over the summer, a number of bands have been auditioned to provide music for the event. Six bands will be selected to provide a program of continuous music in a variety of styles from 12 Noon to 6:00 P.M. the day of the event.
There will be a "Kid Zone," a special area set aside with activities for the children. It will feature the popular "Moon Bounce", carnival games, a giant inflated slide, face painting, a reptile zoo, and many other activities designed for children of all ages.
So, join me at the Cook-off! Nope! I will not be cooking that day, but I'll be one of the guys carrying a "bowl of red."