Chili heads heat it up
with competition, banter
Golden stop first
step to international cook off
December 09, 2004
Steve Lee's family got sick of eating his chili,
he had to find something else to do with his
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
"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
"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
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
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."