05/01/2010 07:47 PM
Chefs face off in NYS Chili Championship
Some of the state's best chefs specializing in chili were in Vestal Saturday facing off in the annual Great New York State Chili Championship. From vegetarian chili, to turkey-based stews, there was plenty of variety for the judges to choose from. Our Janelle Burrell takes us to the competition.
VESTAL, N.Y. -- Some like it chunky!
"I've tried a bunch, and this is the most delicious chili," said Dawn Pint of Binghamton.
For others, a smoother, spicier variety is what it takes to hit the spot.
"What you're gonna get is what they call a second burn and it's gonna be in the stomach, but it's a good feeling," explained Wayne Clark, a chili aficionado.
Anyway you serve it, the competition at the annual Great New York State Chili Championship was heated.
"We got a little trash talking going on here today," said Bob 'Cheesehead Chili' Griffen. "Some folks gunning are for me."
Griffen has participated in all nine of the cook-offs.
"I haven't changed my recipe since 2003," he said. "Once you find a formula that works, you stick with it and, you win some hardware and you keep coming back again."
There were about 20 different vendors all vying for the championship bragging rights. That means about 20 different approaches to making chili.
We've saw some unique ingredients being used including cinnamon, corn and chocolate. But judges say when it comes to selecting the best, it all comes down to personal preference.
"I was looking for a chili that said, 'I want to eat this again,'" said Dan Dodge, one of the competition's judges, "Not something fancy, not something different, or weird."
"I like a more solid piece of meat and aroma and then some unique spices," added Joeleen Dodge, another judge.
With the roster of judges changing from year to year, even the veterans know it's anyone's game.
"Nobody's ever guaranteed a win," said Griffen. "There was a guy in a chili cook-off a few years back in '03, never cooked a bowl of chili in his life until two weeks before. He shows up on the day of and walks away NYS champ, so you never know."
Because when it comes to making chili, taste and preference are as varied as the ingredients in the pot.
The winner from the cook-off will be invited to compete in a national competition in November. All proceeds from Saturday's ticket sales are being donated to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.