While I learned about this event too late to enter, I thoroughly enjoyed being a judge.
Of course, everybody who walked through the door was technically a judge. But I think I took my responsibilities a little more seriously than others.
There were 15 chilis, six of which were vegetarian. As you can see from the picture, it was a blind tasting, with each platter marked only by a letter.
I proceeded through the chilis in alphabetical order, tasting each one and writing down a few notes. Out of the nine meat ones, there were only two I couldn’t stomach (one was extremely sweet), and only two I thought were really up to snuff. Quite a few were bland-tasting, which surprised me.
Two other things caught me off-guard:
- Shredded meat made an appearance twice. Now, I love shredded meat, whether pork, beef or what-have-you. But this seemed like a strange choice for chili. And while the meat in both were tender, there wasn’t much flavor in either. Quite a disappointment.
- The vegetarian chilis were better than the traditional ones. There was only one of the six vegie ones that I strongly disliked. The others were all as good as the one I picked as the winner of the meat division, or better. They had more spice, were more flavorful and, in the case of the winner, put a truly unique twist on chili. (Hint: it involved potatoes and curry.)
Somehow, I managed to pick the winner of both the meat and vegetarian divisions, although I wasn’t as lucky with the runners-up.
A good time was had by all. But more importantly, nobody got indigestion! It was truly a Chili Cook-Off miracle.