It was a gorgeous day for a Chili Cook Off in downtown Toms River yesterday. I’d been waiting practically all year for this event. What can I say, I’m a freak about food, especially Chili. I did have a fleeting fantasy a few months ago about entering this year, but quickly realized I would never be able to get it together in time. And, since I had never attended a chili cook off, I rationalized that is was best to go as a spectator first to see what Jersey Bites would be up against should we dare to enter next year.
The People’s Choice category requires the Chili to contain beans or pasta. The chili that is entered into the International Chili Society competition must not contain beans or pasta. The Toms River event is the only Chili Competition in New Jersey that is sanctioned by the International Chili Society. (Who knew there was an International Chili Society?)
Traditional Red Chili is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden. Chili Verde is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with green chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden. No chili that is being entered in the ICS competition can be precooked in any way prior to the official cookoff.
The People’s Choice award is obviously based on the votes cast by the 6000 attendees. Tasting kits were $9. You get a small Styrofoam cup and spoon, and two tickets to cast your votes for your favorite Chili and Salsa. Every booth has a can where you can deposit your vote. Entries in the Peoples Choice award are required to bring a minimum 2 gallons of chili , however, they are encouraged to bring 15 gallons because that is what former contestants have reported going through by the end of the event. If you are serious about winning the people’s choice award it would make sense to bring enough to keep feeding the crowd as long as you can.
First place for the People’s Choice Chili entry wins $1000, the winner of the Salsa category wins $500. First place winners in the ICS Red Chili competition receive $1500. Green Chili winner receives $300.
The top winner of the ICS Red Chili category was Linda Eckley. Green Chili was Dirty Kurty.
For the People’s Choice Award first place went to the WRAT Radio station. Second went to Firm 4 and third went to Gunny Mikes Devil Dog. Of these three we only tasted Gunny Mikes and it was very good. I’m so sorry I didn’t
realize that WRAT was actually competing with their own chili. I thought they were just promoting the radio station, my loss. Firm 4’s line was way too long for us. We only had one hour to cover the whole event. There were 38 contestants in all. A few were from out of state, but most were locals. In addition to the contestants there were vendors selling food, jewelry, even Senator Adler’s people were there pushing the Legislator’s own special Salsa. (I’ll leave that one alone.)
So, end result? Great day. Will Jersey Bites compete next year? Let’s just say, my friends and family are going to be eating a lot of chili over the next year.
Some of the competitors and vendors we chatted with are listed below: Toms River Fire Company #2; Gunny Mike’s; Chili Headz ;Gloucester Chamber of Commerce; Pop’s Hots; Mary Miranda Elmo; Matt’s Red Hot Chili Peppers; and the Habanero Brothers.