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Chili Cook-off a blast!


Last updated 9/6/2007 at Noon

The Fallbrook Connections Chili Cook-off was a blast this year with crowds of people braving the heat to pay ten dollars each to sample chili from seventeen of our area’s best chili cooks.

There was more to do than just eat chili: classic cars were available for inspection, there was an inflatable slide for kids, Ballet Folklorico put on a fascinating show and a country-western band, the Ruthless Cowboys, entertained the crowd in Village Square.

Fallbrook 4-H members were passing out free plants advertising their group’s next meeting. The 2008 4-H Ambassador for

California, Kelsie Matthews of Fallbrook, was there with two Fallbrook 4-H members, Holly and Patrick Rogers. They were all excited about distributing 100 plants donated by Olive Hill Nursery to potential members.

It seemed as if the traditional recipes for chili swept the awards this year. Cook Tracy Lathrop was on the right track with the “Summer Savory Chili” she made for the Rainbow Valley Grange. As the first place winner in the Amateur Division she used a traditional recipe – medium spiced and made with ground beef and beans.

Silvergate Retirement Center was a standout, taking first in the Professional Division and second in the People’s Choice Division. Their traditional recipe was chock full of beans, ground beef and tomatoes. They even passed out their recipe along with miniature bottles of Tabasco sauce for those who wanted to try it at home.

First place in the People’s Choice Division was a clear winner, in my opinion. “Chez’z Country Chili” by cook Ron Chesney took the honors. With beans and beef and onions, it also had a delicious chocolate taste.

Chesney has been cooking since he was ten years old in his parents’ barbeque restaurant in Kansas City. “Chili cooking is in my blood,” he said.

Chesney’s booth was also quite outstanding and looked like something out of the Old West with signs like “Ozark, Missouri 1,646 miles” and “Dodge City, Kansas 1,267 miles,” among others.

Third place in Professional went to “Wahoo Chili” by cook Rebecca Waranch of Tastefully Simple. She used her own recipe and the Tastefully Simple spices. This chili made in De Luz was a good traditional blend.

Chili laced with burgundy had a non-traditional flavor that might not have appealed to everyone, but in my opinion, it was outstanding. This wonderful chili was made by Joni Wilhelm, owner of the Lace Apron in Fallbrook. Olives and burgundy, along with kidney beans, gave it a unique flavor. Wilhelm came in second in the Professional Division with her tasty concoction.

“Firehouse Chili” made by the De Luz Volunteer Fire Department placed second in the Amateur Division. A good, thick chili, the recipe also earned a second in the competition last year. Chief Mike Manchor developed the recipe, but whoever is around the fire station makes the chili!

Third in the Amateur Division and third in the People’s Choice Division was “Oorah Oorah Hot Chili” by cook Maryann Hillery of Willis-Allen. It was very good with beans and tri-tip with a hot chili sauce.

A good “High Five” chili made with several different beans was created by Chris Coleman, who, in honor of his father, Ron, who died of cancer four years ago, is earning money for cancer research. Coleman, 21, is a senior at California State University, San Marcos.

Alberto Cabrera of El Toro Market was the market’s chef at the cook-off. He developed the recipe about five years ago and decided to enter the contest for fun. Cabrera works in the meat department and cooking is his hobby. This is his fourth cook-off. The recipe was quite spicy and heavy on the chili, but it had a wonderful hearty flavor.

Judges Fred Ragland, Rhonda Reinke and Michele Howard participated in a blind judging contest, in which each had to pick a favorite entry. Howard said she was surprised all three voted the same way.

2007 Chili Cook-off Winners

Amateur Division

1. “Summer Savory Chili” – Tracy Lathrop/Rainbow Valley Grange

2. “Firehouse Chili” – De Luz Volunteer Fire Department

3. “Oorah Oorah Hot Chili” – Maryann Hillery/Willis-Allen

Professional Division

1. “Silvergate’s Finest” – Elena Hunt/Silvergate Retirement Residence

2. “Burgundy ‘Laced’ Chili” – Joni Wilhelm/Lace Apron

3. “Wahoo Chili” – Rebecca Waranch/Tastefully Simple

People’s Choice Division

1. “Chez’z Country Chili” – Ron Chesney

2. “Silvergate’s Finest” – Elena Hunt/Silvergate Retirement Residence”

3. “Oorah Oorah Hot Chili” – Maryann Hillery/Willis-Allen


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