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Chili Cookoff Advice

reccitronreccitron Posts: 176
edited 4:57PM in EggHead Forum
I’ve decided to enter an International Chili Society (ICS) chili cookoff in August but don’t know what to expect. Are the judges looking for specific things in the taste of the chili or can any normal recipe win? I’ve thought about using one of recipes from a past ICS winner as a base but am not sure what taste to shoot for. Example: Is it supposed to be really hot? Smokey?


  • Little ChefLittle Chef Posts: 4,725
    reccitron: A lot is dictated by their rules, which are here...

    What part of the country are you in? I think it best to just make a super kick butt batch of chili based on the typical regional preferences, keeping in mind the attendees and judges will be drawn locally. Too hot, IMO, would be bad. Smokey...well, that's your call, but remember smokey food can be offputting to many. Can you attend a different cookoff before your event, to get an idea what others do? My first instinct is to say just keep it simple, and keep your flavors clean. Good luck with it!
  • hornhonkhornhonk Posts: 3,841
    Here are the ICS rules.

    The Rules and Regulations for cooks at the World’s Championship, State, Regional and District Cookoffs are as follows:
    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. Salsa must be homemade by the contestant whose name and ICS # appear on the Contestant Application. It may be brought to the site that day or it may be prepared at the Cookoff.

    4. No ingredient may be pre-cooked in any way prior to the commencement of the official cookoff. The only excep-
    tions are canned or bottled tomatoes, tomato sauce, peppers, pepper sauce, beverages, broth and grinding
    and/or mixing of spices. Meat may be treated, pre-cut or ground. The ICS does not prefer one over the other.
    MEAT MAY NOT BE PRE-COOKED, in any manner. All other ingredients must be chopped or prepared during the preparation period.

    5. You must be an ACTIVE ICS member to compete in any ICS competition including Traditional Red Chili, Chili
    Verde and Salsa. You must be at least 18 years old.

    6. The cooking period will be a minimum of 3 hours and a maximum of 4 hours. The exact starting and ending of the cooking period is to be announced by each local sponsoring organization. Cooking during entire cooking period is at the sole discretion of the contestant.

    7. A representative of the sponsoring organization shall conduct a contestant’s meeting, at which time final instructions are to be given and questions answered, no later than 1 hour prior to the official starting time of the cookoff.

    8. Contestants are responsible for supplying all of their own cooking utensils, etc. and should be prepared to provide a fire extinguisher and washing station, as they may be required by the sponsoring organization. The sponsors of the cookoff will provide an area for each contestant.

    9. Each contestant must cook a minimum of two quarts of competition chili prepared in one pot which will be submitted for judging. Sharing or splitting Chili, Chili Verde or Salsa for judging with another contestant for the purpose of increasing the number of entries in any event will result in suspension of ICS membership for a minimum of one year. Any cookoff chairman, chief judge or scorekeeper knowingly allowing cheating in any way at their event will result in non-sanctioning of their event the following year, no exceptions.

    10. People's Choice Chili is governed by the SPONSORING ORGANIZATION and cookoff chairman of each cookoff, NOT THE ICS. The chairman can require (a) 2 gallons maximum in lieu of a cash entry fee; (b) 1 gallon maximum in addition to a cash entry fee or (c) a cash fee. Non-compliance by a contestant of the chairman’s requirement will result in disqualification. Discrimination by cookoff officials will result in non-sanctioning of their event the following year. PEOPLE’S CHOICE CHILIL MUST CONTAIN BEANS.

    11. Each contestant will be assigned a contestant’s number by the Chief Scorekeeper and given an official 32 oz. ICS judging cup. In order for a cook to receive the judging cup for their specific contest, they must sign the contestant list and provide their active ICS membership number. Each contestant should verify that the number on the bottom of their cup is the same as their assigned contestant number. Each contestant is responsible to deliver their cup, which must be filled to the bottom of the cup’s rim, to the judging area at the official time for judging.

    12. Judges will be told that they should vote for the chili, as defined by the ICS, based on the following major
    considerations: good chili flavor, texture of the meat, consistency, blend of spices, aroma and color.

    Rules & Regulations 08/10
  • RipnemRipnem Posts: 5,511
    No beans! sounds like a spicy Sloppy Joe. :laugh:
  • reccitronreccitron Posts: 176
    Ripnem wrote:
    No beans! sounds like a spicy Sloppy Joe. :laugh:

    I knew the competition chili couldn't have beans but the peoples choice has to have beans. That doesn't make any since to me. You may have 2 different tasting chili's. I would think you would want the public tasting exactly what the judges are.
  • PopsiclePopsicle Posts: 520
    Reccitron you are so right about the Chile not having beens, that is chili. As soon as you start adding beens, you stop making chili. Have no idea what they are thinking using beens.
    You won't see beens in a CASI sanctioned event. Just saying..........
    Willis Tx.
  • RipnemRipnem Posts: 5,511
    Mr. Popsicle,

    With 87% of the Board and Officers of the group being from Texas, that shouldn't surprise anyone. :P
  • hornhonkhornhonk Posts: 3,841
    We take our chili seriously down here.

    The Official State Food
    Of Texas

    Some Interesting Chili History

    In 1977 - The Texas legislature officially proclaimed chili the official "state food" of Texas "in recognition of the fact that the only real 'bowl of red' is that prepared by Texans."

    It is said that Jesse James (1847-1882), outlaw and desperado of the old American West, once gave up a chance to rob a bank in McKinney, Texas because that is where his favorite chili parlor was located.

    "Next to music there is nothing that lifts the spirits and strengthens the soul more than a good bowl of chili."
    Harry James (1916-1983) band leader and trumpeter

    "Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili."
    Alleged dying words of Kit Carson (1809-1868), Frontiers Man and Mountain Man

    "Chili powder makes you crazy"
    Anonymous quote - I think a famous chili cook-off winner said this.

    The following song has become the anthem at every Terlingua Chili Cook-Off, where no chili with beans recipes are allowed to compete.

    If You Know Beans About Chili,
    You Know That Chili Has No Beans
    by Ken Finlay, singer, songwriter,
    and owner of Cheatham Street Warehouse
    (a music hall in San Marcos), written in 1976.

    You burn some mesquite
    And when the coals get hot
    You bunk up some meat
    And you throw it on a pot.
    While some chile pods and garlic
    And comino and stuff
    Then you add a little salt
    Till there's just enough
    You can throw in some onions
    To make it smell good
    You can even add tomatoes
    If you feel like you should
    But if you know beans about chili
    You know that chili has no beans

    If you know beans about chili
    You know it didn't come from Mexico
    Chili was God's gift to Texas
    (Or maybe it came from down below)
    And chili doesn't go with macaroni
    And dammed Yankee's don't go with chili queens;
    And if you know beans about chili
    You know that chili has no beans
  • PopsiclePopsicle Posts: 520
    Ripnem, we will have to work on that 13% at the next election????????
    Hate to say it but Mrs. Popsicle puts beens in her chili but we don't serve it to guest.
    Willis Tx.
  • HossHoss Posts: 14,600
    FUNNY! But then again,they think cow is Q too! :whistle: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :evil: ;) :)
  • HossHoss Posts: 14,600
    Do em like sauce,"Served on the Side"! :)
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