How to run a chili cook off

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
Dec 19, 2005
Beautiful Grand Rapids Michigan
I was looking at Tommy C's chili recipe and thought I would love to cook up a batch.

My mine went to wondering and thought that I should have a chili cook off.

Has any one ever ran one? If so how do you go about running one?
First thing to do is find some sponsors in your area. See if there willing to supply $$$$ for prizes and advertising. If you advertise and offer $$$$ and prizes....they will come
also, have an entry fee to cover costs and avoid "ghost entries" or no shows the day of the contest. It's a start.
Thanks Tommy C.

My thoughts have gone to the possiblity of having the cook off at my church.

This way I would have a location, the people. I am just not sure how you get the judges "qualified", are there a set of rules to go by etc
Hey Cheech,
The competition I was in, the judges were area chefs. You need to have people with developed palates. Now thats just one source. Let the people at the cook-off be judges also, "peoples choice award" and ect.
In Texas judges are easy enough to find, at least for BBQ contests. They take anyone off the streets that wants to be a judge, no training necessary, and they usually get more than enough volunteers. The Head Judges that run the show are certified though and explain to the judges how the process works, what to look for, and how to grade.
Cheech, I have organized and ran Dutch Oven cook-offs and the advice that you have been given is right on.

Find Sponsors that will donate prizes and/or cash-Promote their business with banners and/or signs.

Tie you cook-off to a local event. Don't hold a cook-off to have a cook-off. My competitions were held in conjunction with the City's July 4th festival. Hold YOUR event where people will be gathered.

People that KNOW food make the best judges. I've used Certified Executive Chefs, City Dignitaries, local radio personalities and even the City Queen and her Court.

Provide plenty of ice cold water for the participants to drink. It's nice if a sponsor and provide that too.

And a Cash fee at sign-up will weed out the "pretenders" I also required a copy of all recipes and a local printer combined them in to an Event Cookbook. The judges and the participants got a free copy and the rest were sold to the public and the monies generated went to support the City's Park and Recreation Scholarship program.

This is something that needs to be well thought out. I always started lining up sponsors and promoting the event 9 months out from the event.
Great tips there Dutch :D Your right on when you say to have the comp. surrounding a larger event

The online Yellow Pages fro Grand Rapids chili places suck. (Chili's restaurant was the only hit)

So I assume you have chili places, that don't have "chili" in the name.

Check in with some of those places, get reps from those places as judges.

Good to hook up with the church. Then all proceeds go to a good cause

Hope you do well
How to run a chili cook off? Don't pay her :!: :mrgreen:

I've been watching this roll over for 2 days and I 've been dying to say "Don't pay her".

Surely I ain't the only old deviate out there :roll: .
Too funny cajun. took this ole dog a moment but I got it.

Willkat98, there really are not any "Real" chili places here in Grand Rapids. There was talk once about a "Skyline" chili but they not only did not move to town they pulled the only one with in 30 miles out.

This is part of the reason I would love to have a cook off is I could really go for some good chili.

I am interested in trying different types and this way I do not have to cook it all myself.
Skyline is more of a slurry than a chili. You would never eat it without pasta (and cheese and beans 4-way. Keep the onions :) )

That being said, I eat ALOT of Skyline. Spent alot of time in Cincinnati. Daughter was even born there.

Check your grocer's canned chili aisle Cheech. They just might carry Skyline in the can. Thats how we eat it, unless we're in Indianapolis or Columbus.
And thanks for the Recipe meowey

Looks like you got everything there (with the cocoa and cinnamon the key)

I look forward to trying it
Thanks Willkat98, I will check the shelves and see if it awaits me. Just might give me a reason to have a great day.

Thanks meowey I will have the try the recipe maybe there will be no reason to go to the store to buy the chili.

I may be making a trip to Ohio over the holiday and if we do I know where this BBQer is going to eat lunch
Hey Tommy-cajunsmoker said that, not me!! But I was thinking the same thing, so I guess that makes me an old deviate too. :roll:
For those that are interested here is the final plan.

All are invited to cook.

They must supply enough chili to fill 50 small plastic cups. (50 because that is about how many people I would expect to come and try this)

Each person who comes will get a ticket that they are to place in a bucket in front of the chili they like the best.

So it becomes a people's choice award.
We run a "fun" type of chili cook off at our local VFW - we tie it in as a tailgate party before a 4 o'clock Eagles came. Actually all through football season there are plenty of people who volunteer to bring food in. I put a sign up stating "Think you make the best chili" sign up here to let everyone try. This year we're just going to do a cookoff, not just chili, so that we have a wider variety of food...It's more for the comraderie than anything, it's actually great when someone really messes something up because you have a conversation piece that'll last for months! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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