On Saturday, Sept. 23, contestants will be firing up their kettles and creating their best chili in hopes of taking home the top prize of $1,000 during the 16th Annual Simon Kenton Chili Cook Off Festival.
The festival committee has put together a team of “foodies” and restaurant owners to do the judging. The judges are Patsy Thackery, co-owner Paradiso Restaurant, Brad Winner, owner of MIXX 165 Restaurant, Cortney Portner, Certified Chef and Director of Culinary Development & Events at Woodruff Farm, Leon Luis Garcia, owner of Orale Tacos y Mas food truck and Matt Foster, general manager of the Urbana Brewing Company and previous winner in the Chili Cook Off competition.
“Judging is not easy,” said Audra Bean, 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 meat, peppers, spices, etc., with no particular ingredient being overpowering, 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.
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.
Color: Chili should look appetizing – it should have a clear, crisp appearance with the vegetables (peppers, beans etc.) not cooked to a mushy consistency.
Points are scored in each category and the chili earning the highest number of points is the winner.
“A 2022 winner will not necessarily be a winner in 2023 – 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. Judging is a complicated process and can take several hours. We appreciate the judges taking time from their restaurants on such a busy day,” said Bean.
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 “Peoples Choice Chili” winner earns a trophy and bragging rights. The festival includes a best salsa contest, best decorated booth contest in addition to a corn hole tournament, music, children’s activities and lots of great food.
Info from event organizers