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Golden Transcript December 2004
Chili heads heat it up with competition, banter Golden stop first step  to international cook off
Nicole Frey                          write the author



Richard Kelley watches over a special batch of his homemade chili before judging began at 1 p.m. The Golden Chamber of Commerce and the city of Golden teamed up to sponsor the annual Holiday Chili Cook-off along Washington Avenue on Saturday. Contestants from around the country came to the event in hopes of receiving bragging rights for the best chili in Golden. (Really it's Lyman Wilkinson)

December 09, 2004
When Steve Lee's family got sick of eating his chili, he had to find something else to do with his culinary outlet.

He found his saving grace in chili cook offs.

A year into the game, he and his daughter, Stephanie, traverse the state engaging in competition. They traveled to Golden on Saturday to do friendly battle with about a dozen other "chili heads," and returned home to Longmont victorious with a first-place ranking in the Chili Appreciation Society international holiday chili cook off.

With pots simmering behind booths, men and women sniffed, tasted and seasoned the chili to perfection between bantering with their neighbors.

"It's just something to do," said chef Richard Kelley, who placed eighth. "You get to hang out with good guys, and it's an excuse to drink beer on the weekends."

Chili makers sold 160 samples of chili to during the day, while 10 judges sweated it out tasting the fruits of their labor.

"The food racked up pretty good," said chili taster Brian Hulyk. "For me, it's about the taste and aftertaste. The chili doesn't need to be really, really hot, it just needs to be flavorful, and the ones that order their spices fresh, you can really tell. If it gets your palate going, that's what you're looking for."

The proceeds from the cook offs routinely go to local charities and CASI officials say it raises more than $1 million annually for charity.

This year's funds from the holiday cook off will benefit the Ronald McDonald House, Denver Post Season to Share and the Denver Broncos Charities Fund.

"We're doing it for a good cause, and it's great because it all stays local," said Trinidad's Mike Parker, who placed fifth.

Parker estimated he travels about 10,000 miles each year participating in cook offs.

"It's a good excuse to do something fun on the weekend," he said.

He was joined by others, who in addition to their love of chili, came to socialize.

"It's a very social event," said Mary Ann Parish, from Cheyenne, Wyo., who claimed 10th place.

The chili makers are all vying for the ultimate social event, the cook off at Terlingua, Texas, where hundreds gather every year to make their best chiles.

Throughout the competition year, participants need to earn six points to cook at Terlingua.

Golden's competition awarded four points to Lee, who also swept the showmanship competition with his Warriors of the Crimson Pepper display.

"Each competition is a different experience," said Kyle Haberman, who had traveled from Nebraska. "It's an ever evolving process."
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