This Saturday, more than 30 contestants will be creating their best chili in hopes of taking home the top prize of $1,000 during the 11th annual Simon Kenton Chili Cook-off Festival. The festival committee believes it is important for the judges to have experience in the food/restaurant industry and has confirmed the judges for this year’s competition. The judges are Chef Yesho Chetty, culinary school graduate and owner of Fusion 40.83 Restaurant, Tia Leopard, co-owner of Mumford’s Deli, Chuck Jones, owner of the former Catfish Jones Restaurant, Amber Fraley Weaver, manager of the Wing Bar, and Tiffany Rowland, manager of Coppertop Restaurant.
“Judging is not easy,” said Linda Monroe, committee member. “It is not just a matter of tasting, but, rather a process of scoring the chili based on five criteria.” Scoring is based on the following:
Taste: Taste above all else is the most important factor. The taste should consist of the combination of the meat, peppers, spices, etc., with no particular ingredient being over powering, but, rather complementing one another. The texture of the meat is important as well as the blend of spices.
Bite: Bite or after taste is the heat created by the various types of chili peppers and chili spices. The chili should not be so spicy that it would burn the tongue which would destroy the ability to taste the separate components of the chili. A pleasing warmth after swallowing the chili is ideal.
Consistency: Chili must have a good proportion of sauce, beans, meat etc. It should not be dry, watery, grainy, lumpy or greasy.
Aroma: Chili should have an inviting aroma which gives you an idea of what to expect when tasting. You should be able to distinguish the individual spices and peppers used.
Color: Chili should look appetizing – Whether it is the standard beef chili or the white chicken chili, it should have a clear, crisp appearance with the vegetables (peppers, beans etc.) not cooked to a “mush.”
Points are scored in each category and the chili earning highest number of points is the winner.
“A 2016 winner will not necessarily be a winner in 2017 – every pot of chili will taste different based on the ingredients used at the time. The recipe might be the same, but, the heat of the peppers, freshness of the spices and flavor of the meat will vary and ultimately affect the taste of the chili. I think it is important for people to realize that judging is a complicated process that can take several hours depending upon the number of contestants. We appreciate the judges taking time from their restaurants on such a busy day ” said Monroe.
In addition to the chili judges, judges for the Best Salsa Contest have been confirmed. They are: Robin Coffey, Jodi Compton, Heather Kyte and Ken Wright. Winner of the best salsa will take home $100.
To encourage a fun atmosphere, contestants are asked to decorate their booth with a theme representing their team “name.” This has resulted in awesome, creative and zany decorations in the past. For their efforts, the winner receives a trophy and $100 cash prize. The judges are Sara Kerns, Julie Fannin and Sarah Thornton.
The audience can participate in judging their favorite chili by purchasing beads and dropping them in the container at the booth that created their favorite chili. The “People’s Choice Chili” winner earns a trophy and “bragging rights.”
In addition to the contests, the festival includes a corn hole tournament, dunk tank, live entertainment featuring the Indoorfins band, and lots of great food ensuring a day of fun for the entire family!
Information for this story was submitted on behalf of the Chili Cook-Off organizers.