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Humor in the Chili World (click on the title to go to the article)

The Chili Judge


Food just doesn't get any better than chili

We originally made this page before we knew the author of the story.  On April 29, 2002, we received an E-mail from Kathy who gave us the author's name so we could give the proper credit.  "Frank the Chili Tester was originally written by W. Bruce Cameron. He is a humor columnist and writes the Cameron Column for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado.  Please feel free to visit his website at:  and you'll find many more columns, though his personal favorite is "The Chili Taster."

We wrote to Mr. Cameron and he gave us permission to keep this page.  The version we first placed on this page was not correct as it was sent to us.  The version below IS CORRECT and includes Mr. Cameron's copyright.

PLEASE visit his site:

Chili Judge
Copyright 1997 W. Bruce Cameron

===> Please do not remove the copyright from this essay! <===

Recently I was honored to be selected as an Outstanding Famous Celebrity in my Community to be a judge at a chili cook-off because no one else wanted to do it. Also the original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking directions to the beer wagon when the call came. I was assured by the other two judges that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy, and besides they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted this as being one of those burdens you endure when you're an internet writer and therefore known and adored by all. Here are the scorecards from the event:

Chili # 1: Mike's Maniac Mobster Monster Chili

JUDGE ONE: A little too heavy on tomato. Amusing kick.
JUDGE TWO: Nice, smooth tomato flavor Very mild.
CAMERON: Holy smokes, what is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway with it. Took me two beers to put the flames out. Hope that's the worst one. These people are crazy.

Chili # 2: Arthur's Afterburner Chili

JUDGE ONE: Smoky (barbecue?) with a hint of pork. Slight Jalapeno tang.
JUDGE TWO: Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
CAMERON: Keep this out of reach of children! I'm not sure what I am supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. Shoved my way to the front of the beer line. The barmaid looks like a professional wrestler after a bad night. She was so irritated over my gagging sounds that the snake tattoo under her eye started to twitch. She has arms like Popeye and a face like Winston Churchill. I will NOT pick a fight with her.

Chili # 3: Fred's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili

JUDGE ONE: Excellent firehouse chili! Great kick. Needs more beans.
JUDGE TWO: A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of red peppers.
CAMERON: This has got to be a joke. Call the EPA, I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been sneezing Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now and got out of my way so I could make it to the beer wagon. Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. She said her friends call her "Sally." Probably behind her back they call her "Forklift."

Chili # 4: Bubba's Black Magic

JUDGE ONE: Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
JUDGE TWO: A hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.
CAMERON: I felt something scraping across my tongue but was unable to taste it. Sally was standing behind me with fresh refills so I wouldn't have to dash over to see her. When she winked at me her snake sort of coiled and uncoiled--it's kinda cute.

Chili # 5: Linda's Legal Lip Remover

JUDGE ONE: Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
JUDGE TWO: Chili using shredded beef; could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
CAMERON: My ears are ringing and I can no longer focus my eyes. I belched and four people in front of me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed hurt when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue by pouring beer directly on it from a pitcher. Sort of irritates me that one of the other judges asked me to stop screaming.

Chili # 6: Vera's Very Vegetarian Variety

JUDGE ONE: Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spice and peppers.
JUDGE TWO: The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic.  Superb.
CAMERON: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous flames. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except Sally. I asked if she wants to go dancing later.

Chili # 7: Susan's Screaming Sensation Chili

JUDGE ONE: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
JUDGE TWO: Ho Hum, tastes as if the chef threw in canned chili peppers at the last moment. I should note that I am a bit worried about Judge Number 3, he appears to be in a bit of distress.
CAMERON: You could put a hand grenade in my mouth and pull the pin and I wouldn't feel it. I've lost the sight in one eye and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My clothes are covered with chili which slid unnoticed out of my mouth at some point. Good, at autopsy they'll know what killed me. Go Sally, save yourself before it's too late. Tell our children I'm sorry I was not there to conceive them. I've decided to stop breathing, it's too painful and I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air I'll just let it in through the hole in my stomach. Call the X-Files people and tell them I've found a super nova on my tongue.

Chili # 8: Helen's Mount Saint Chili

JUDGE ONE: This final entry is a good, balanced chili, neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge Number 3 fell and pulled the chili pot on top of himself.
JUDGE TWO: A perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili, safe for all, not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.

Copyright 1997 W. Bruce Cameron

We received a great E-mail from "Bob" who told us that he really enjoyed the above "Chili Taster" and he was kind enough to send us a certified narration of "the rest of the story".  We hope you enjoy this as much as we did!  Thanks Bob!


The following was derived from interviews with contestants, vendors and attendees, and from various official reports submitted and filed by the city police, county sheriff's office, Highway Patrol, volunteer fire department, officials of the ASPCA, and the EMS ambulance crew.

After Judge Cameron consumed a third large spoonful of Chili #8, he lurched to his feet launching his folding chair back into the lovely Sally, who was catapulted off the rear of the judging stand landing flat on her back in the grass just below the stand. Cameron whispered what bystanders recounted sounded like a desperate plea for assistance: "Help me, for the love of God, help me," and appeared to reach for either the airborne Sally or the two pitchers of beer clutched in her hands. Two of the dogs from the Frisbee Catching Contest ran over to lap at the beer-drenched Sally and her thoroughly saturated clothing, such as it was. Sally attempted to demurely both recover her composure as well as re-cover some of her more endearing features, as she'd hit the ground fairly hard bursting a few constraints here and there. Several spectators were injured in the gentlemanly rush to provide assistance.

As these events unfolded, Judge Cameron with a look of pain induced panic appeared to double over and lose his balance. Flailing his arms to regain steady footing, Cameron grabbed the pot of Chili #8 in a vain attempt to stabilize himself. Staggering back toward the edge of the stand, Frank suffered what witnesses later described as a severe internal reaction to the combined chili and beer he had consumed with such gusto. 

With a sonic boom like sound, according to many observers, Cameron sustained an eruption of incendiary intestinal gas, which ignited one of the dogs still licking beer from the prostrate form of Sally. The poor creature was quickly extinguished by Judge Two's quick utilization of the last pitcher of beer on the judging table. Luckily the dog was only singed, except on the side nearest Cameron, but the local vet said the hair should grow back the same color as it was. Cameron, in the mean time, slumped off the back edge of the stand spattering the pot of Chili #8 on himself, on Sally, and over the growing herd of wannabe rescuers of Sally, who was desperately fending off any number of helping hands. All the other Frisbee Contest dogs bounded over for the sudden chili feast adding further fuel and confusion to what would soon grow into utter pandemonium. Cameron in a semi-comatose state appeared peaceful as he assumed a supine position next to Sally in the grass. Sally glanced at Cameron with a gaze full of heat and passion. Any woman in the crowd would have recognized the danger in that glare, but the gathering of cowboys seemed inflamed as they jostled to save Sally with either mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or go directly to the ever-popular CPR. 

The noxious fumes emanating from Cameron's volcanic blast caused a stampede beginning with the throng milling around Sally. As the toxic vapors spread, the escalating exodus became frenzied flight quickly evolving into a hysterical herd trampling tents, booths, stands, and sundry chili preparation utensils. Toppled chili cook stoves and electrical wiring torn from junction boxes created a conflagration like the tri-county area has not seen before and, perhaps, ever again. Adding to the confusion, the fleeing horde hampered and impeded the arrival of various emergency and law enforcement personnel, who were therefore too late to prevent the most serious of Cameron's injuries as Sally thrashed him soundly about the head and shoulders.

Judge Cameron is recovering in a local hospital and though not in custody, charges may yet be brought. Sally and Judge Two are dating as he did give Sally his jacket, although some think his effort to dry her off with a handful of paper towels was opportunistic at best. Judge One is attempting to become a Food Critic for some yuppie newspaper in the wine country of California.

Submitted by Bob M

Food just doesn't get any better than chili
by Mike Redmond -- Indianapolis Star -- March 4, 1998

Did you see the story about Ruthann Aron, who is charged with a crime most heinous? Among other things, Ruthann - a former political candidate from Montgomery County, Md. - is accused of trying to poison her estranged husband by putting drugs in his chili. I don't care one way or another about the Aron's divorce, but what that woman did to the chili was inexcusable.  Chili as we all know, is a perfect food. It tastes good. It promotes free breathing in seconds. Best of all it contains each of the Basic Food Groups: the Meat Group, the Grease Group and the Set-Fire-To-Your-Mouth Group. I would eat chili five days a week were it not for the stern advice of my physician, who, upon getting a look at me in what we shall call "beach attire", told me to lay off the lard and eat some salad for a change.

All shapes and spices
What's interesting is that no two people seem to have the same idea as to what constitutes a good bowl of chili. Here in the Midwest, chili usually means a spiced-up hamburger-tomato-and-bean soup, sometimes with macaroni. That's what I grew up on, minus the macaroni. Dad, who ruled such things, said macaroni was something "other people" put in chili. Dad ruled the chili because chili is 100 Percent Man Food, owing to its high levels of grease and pepper. If Purina made Man Chow, it would be chili-flavored. Chili also is Man Food because men making chili can indulge their flair of Cooking Theater. My dad did that. Every time he entered the kitchen to make chili, we knew we were in for an afternoon of highly entertaining chopping, mincing, sauteeing, stirring and seasoning, all performed with the kind of abandon that left the kitchen looking like Hurricane Hormel had blown through. As Dad got older, his taste buds went haywire and his chili became more and more incendiary. Dad always had a heavy hand with the Tabasco; as he aged he started using it by the cupful. This made Dad's chili nearly inedible, although we found that if we scattered it around the perimeter of the yard, we never had a problem with owls. After I left home, I became acquainted with real chili, a fiery stew made with meat, spices, peppers, and precious little else. No beans and especially no macaroni.

Salvation in Texas
I remember the first time I ate real chili, down in Texas. It was like finding religion. One taste and I no longer worshiped the false idol of Midwestern chili with beans in it. The meat and spices touched my tongue and in a single, life- changing moment, I knew my place in the universe. Over the years, my faith has been tested. I have sampled turkey chili (weird), Cincinnati chili (weirder) and vegetarian chili (heresy) I have even tried Chasen's chili, a not-very-good recipe from the Hollywood restaurant. (Supposedly, Elizabeth Taylor was so crazy about Chasen's chili that she had it shipped to the location where she was filming Cleopatra. I don't think you can blame the chili for the movie being such a stinker, though.)

Chili deserves more
Anyway, true believer that I am, I keep coming back to real, basic, Texas chili, the perfect food. And that is why I was so distressed to learn about the way Ruthann Aron tried to dispatch her husband with those drugs. What kind of twisted mind would do such a thing to an innocent bowl of chili? I'll bet she put beans and macaroni in it, too. I say throw the book at her.








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