Chili cook-offs slated for this weekend

Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal File PhotoCaleb Ball, 9, tastes a sample of chili during the Carson City Regional International Chili Society Competition at Glen Eagles last year.

Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal File PhotoCaleb Ball, 9, tastes a sample of chili during the Carson City Regional International Chili Society Competition at Glen Eagles last year.

World-class chili cooks will put forward their best blend of spices and meats Saturday as they compete for a qualifying spot in the High Sierra Regional Chili Cookoff and Nevada Capital Regional Chili Cookoff.

There are three classes to compete in " red chili, chili verde and salsa " with the winner in each category qualifying for the World Championship Chili Cookoff in October.

Red chili is made of beef or pork or a combination of both, with red chili powders and

red chilis. Green chili is made with chicken or pork, most often pork, with the use of green chilis so it appears to have a green color to it.

"These are a bunch of people who get together to have fun but are very competitive," Grayson said. "They're world-class cooks out there to have a good time. The public could be out there tasting the chili of the next world champion."

One might wonder what it takes to make a great chili.

"It's a consistent blend of meat and spices," said Bob Grayson, chairman of the event. Grayson himself has qualified for the world championships six times.

"Not more, not less, just a nice blend. One that is not soupy, yet not dry."

In the dos and don'ts of the International Chili Society (sanctioning body), the absolute don't is no beans, and spice is up to the cook.

"Well, chili by definition has spice," Grayson said. "It's got to have a little kick.

"The judges will taste a whole bunch of chili, and they don't want their taste buds ruined by the first bite of chili. You want a nice bit (of spice) on the first bite, then a little heat on the back of the throat. But not too hot."

Cooking begins at noon both Saturday and Sunday on the lawn of Glen Eagles Restaurant, 3700 N. Carson St., with the last red chili submitted to the judge's panel at 3 p.m. Grayson said there will be between 30-35 competitors in the red chili, 20 in green chili and probably 15 in the salsa competitions.

Among the cooks is former World Champions Ed Pierczynski (red chili) and John Ammerman (salsa), both of Carson City. At least six other past world champions will be participating.

"The High Sierra Cookoff on Saturday has produced more world champions in the International Chili Society than any other qualifier," Grayson noted. "It is the most favorite cookoff of chili cooks."

The events are sanctioned by the ICS, the largest food contest, festival organization in the world, which has raised more than $75 million for local charities and sanctions more than 300 cookoffs each year. Entries are expected from Nevada, California, Arizona, Texas, Oregon and Washington. About 125 qualifying events are held prior to the world competition.

The salsa cookoff is what Grayson described as a "run what cha brung" event.

"There are no rules for the salsa," he said. "You can make it at home, on site, go to the store and buy a bottle to enter. We have the former world salsa champion right here in Carson City, John Ammerman. He won in 2006 and is entered this year."

Salsa can be made in a variety of ways " with fruit, tomato sauce type, pico de gallo " which Grayson said most often wins.

Food and drink will be available from Glen Eagles and sampling of the salsa will begin at noon. The cooks then give samples of their chili to the public after submission of their entries to the judges.

The decorated booths provide a festive atmosphere for which chili cooks are known.

The judges panel is comprised of experienced chili judges, local dignitaries and connoisseurs of spicy foods. The announcement of winners will be made at 5 p.m.

For information, call Bob Grayson at 882-6878.

- Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.

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