The Food Dudes Invade the Connecticut Chili Classic

I’m such a child. This is what popped into my head at a chili fest.

Homer Simpson once rolled up to a chili cook-off old west style, he took out his eatin’ spoon, and ran through that joint critiquing everyone’s chili.
Now we didn’t ingest a strange, glowing pepper from Chief Wiggum that would eventually put us in a hallucinogenic state, but we sure had fun trying all the different chili creations from Connecticut locals at the First Annual Connecticut Chili Classic. We checked in, and once they handed us our chili cup, we channeled that scene from “The Simpsons.”
Not gonna lie, being early had its advantages, since the outdoor area quickly filled up with chili fiends. We made our way around, taking breaks in between each ladle full of the good stuff, when Rob, commenting on the growing crowd, said something to the tune of, “Nah son. U gotta go str8 thru. F dat.” 
Chili cups

The crowd

The competitors weren’t being cheap with it, we got nice, big ladles full of chili!

And so the non-stop indulgence began. Our only breaks came when we scooped chili back out of the cup. Who says eating isn’t working out? Heck, we even ate our chili creepily away from everyone just to keep cool and not be all up on the other attendees, and luckily the Chili Gods were looking out for their boys with a cool breeze on a spice filled afternoon. We only needed to get warm by the bonfire after coming down from our chili high.
I took notes on the good ones because included with the price of admission the public was granted THREEtickets to vote on their favorite. I take this seriously.
Here’s how I voted:

I tossed two tickets to Pickering Farms. Their smoked brisket chili was a double winner, earning the judge’s vote for best chili and the approval of the public for the number one spot. I liked the thicker consistency, but most of all, the spices, along with the smokiness of the tender chunks and shreds of brisket won me over. I would have eaten that chili on a sandwich. 


Runner up…Waterbury Fire Department

My remaining ticket went to the most interesting creation of the day, the Smoke & Game chili.It was this guy’s first competition and he ended up coming in second as elected by the people (judge’s second place went to the Waterbury Fire Department). Using venison, wild boar, and smoked brisket was a risk that certainly paid off. Is this kind of chili for everyone? No way. But it was for me. This chili had that gamey thing going on but I appreciated it more because of the seasonings that help combat it and I was able to discern each protein from the next. People’s Champ? You betcha.
One last chili that deserves a mention was dubbed, “Decatur Orleans.” I didn’t vote for it since I thought it was fair to give two tickets to my first choice and one to my second, but this cashew chicken-chili really hit the spot. It had a nice mellow heat and the cashews were slightly cooked but still had some crunch and added that texture component along with the crumbled tortilla chips on top.
With the win, Pickering Farms received the Connecticut Chili Cup, sponsorship to the International Chili Society’s New England Regional Chili Cook Off, a butane stove and a $50 gift certificate to Craft Butchery. Other winners also received sponsorship to the International Chili Society’s New England Regional Chili Cook Off to be held on May 4, 2013.
The CT Chili Classic also is a big winner for doing something nice as they donated 10% of ticket sales to Wholesome Wave, based in Bridgeport, a charity that links locally grown, fresh ingredients to urban and under-served communities to help them make healthier eating choices.
Congratulations to the winners and to Saugatuck Craft Butchery, who organized this event, and to SoNo MarketPlace for playing host. You both deserve a big hand.
It’s safe to say we cannot wait to eat our way through next year’s competition and many more to come. I know Homer Simpson would be proud!  
Damion casting a vote for, (cue school girl-like giggling) Man Meat.

Me and Rob set to drink chili.

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