There’s a Chili in the Park

6th Annual Chili Cook-off
Veterans’ Memorial Park
Langford, BC

I’m always on the lookout for a good satisfying chili and this cook-off gives me ample opportunity to find just the right mix. Sauce thickness, and the right combination of ingredients can make or break a bowl. A good spoonful has to leave a warm numbness on my tongue. It has to be spicy but yet show restraint, and let the other ingredients shine. Why enjoy it now only to pay for it later with a couple of stomach relief pills.

The park was adequately decorated with tents for the teams, bouncy castle for the kids and musical entertainment for everyone else. I stepped up to Rotary Club’s registration desk and paid an inexpensive sum of $5 to attend. In return I was given a spoon and a judging card. Both were my keys to new adventures.

There were eight teams and I was somewhat disappointed the teams were all businesses. I rather enjoyed the country fare approach with everyone being allowed to show off their grandma’s secret recipe. If I had my wish, I wouldn’t have had enough time to taste them all. But no matter; this spoon was the sword of the highlander. And in amongst these eight teams of chili fighters, there can be only one.

Team 1 was The Accountable Hot Chili Mamas from Fast and Effective Book Keeping.

Out of all of the groups, team 1’s chili was served lukewarm. This may have been caused when they served the chili with a cooling guacamole mixed in. But the spiciness remained intact. The ingredients were dominated by too many tomatoes. And the chip stuck into my sample cup was a minus. I should have been asked if I wanted my sample cup converted to a sail boat.

Team 2 was the Investors Group. Their table was lovingly decorated tiki style. They gave me a nicely decorated spoon to use.

They offered samplers a choice of hot sauce, varying in intensity, from Extreme Heat. Their chili was served nice and hot. The ingredients complimented each other; the sauce was a good thickness and the spices left a warm afterglow on my tongue. I felt like Oliver Twist holding out his bowl. Please sir, can I have some more?

Team 3 was Expedia Cruise Ship Centers presenting their vegetarian chili. They offered sour cream or tortilla chips as an option. I thought the zucchini chunks were far too big. The rest of the chili was too spicy and there wasn’t enough ingrediants to give this meal any real weight.

West End Chiropractic was team 4. They made a good effort on their table display. Dr. Vari’s Mild Meaty Magma had large, chunky, tomato chunks. It was rather tepid. There was vegetarian option called Crystal’s Champion Chipotle Chili. It smelled and tasted of smoke. And again my sample cup was converted by an added tortilla chip.

Team 5 was West Shore Town Centre’s CIBC branch. They wrangled a younger good-looking Scotsman to lower the defenses of the female tasters. At the same time he was promoting 2010’s World Cup. But to not support your home country in the world cup? That’s blasphemy. Their chili, though, was not. Although the sauce was a little thin and the amount of corn overpowered, it was quite yummy. The amount of spice was enough to set my tongue alight.

Goldstream News Gazette was team 6 and they used an entirely different approach by playing to both sexes. Using the simple strategy of cool sorbet being dished out by a cute child, it seemed there was no stopping them. But the bubble burst after my first taste. It could be a combination of the spices but I swear I was tasting an ashtray. for better or for worse. I had to encourage myself to finish the sample. It was such a shame, the Lucerne Triple Threat Sorbet was a nice touch.

Pacific Centre Family Services’ team 7 presented an organic turkey chili while offering salsa, cheese and sour cream to enhance it. This was my first experience of turkey over beef. and I rather liked it’s unique flavour. The sauce it was stewed in was just the right thickness.

And finally Hayworth Communities made up team 8. Sour cream with special herbs was an option. s a result any spices in the sample were made ineffective.) The chili’s contents were in abundance but somehow they neglected to add a good amount of sauce. It was hard to decide if I was eating chili or golash. Even a lady wearing a cute, feathery hat and holding a rubber chicken couldn’t distract me long enough from my misgivings.

The Rotary Club of West Shore’s Chili Cook-off was a nice little event but if it’s individuals of the community you seek, you may be better off at a country fair. What I learned was whether you distract the audience with rubber chicken or ice cream, it’s the promise of good chili people really want.


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