Sanford, FL — There’s no such thing as a bad day for chili, but it may be best as a cold-weather treat. Saturday, January 18 marked the 5th annual Central Florida Crimeline Chili Cookoff, held at Seminole Harley-Davidson in Sanford, FL.
For $5, you got a red wrist band, a plastic spoon, and access to all the chili you cared to eat. Sandy Cannon, the dealership’s events manager, started the event 5 years ago and says participation and attendance have doubled each year.
Fifty teams competed in different categories: Meat Lovers, Veggie, Most Unusual, Law Enforcement, and Plain Old Chili. At the same time, 9 teams from various central Florida police agencies competed in a law enforcement motor challenge, demonstrating superior motorcycle riding skills on a closed course.
Sandy Cannon of Seminole H-D estimated attendance at 1500-2000, and judging by the crowds and lines for chili as the event progressed, I’d guess higher. Teams were required to cook up at least a 3-gallon pot of chili (most prepared larger quantities), and some teams were running out before the end of the event.
With 50 teams competing, it was impossible to sample all the different varieties, but here are a few that stood out: Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe’s “Nutcracker Chili,” featuring a blend of ground pork, beef, smoked pork loin, 5 varieties of pepper and Octoberfest beer–not to mention cashews sprinkled with ground chipotle pepper. “It’s about creating a full mouth experience,” friendly restaurant owner Theo Hollerbach told me. I’d say it created a full mouth and a happy stomach!
“Miss Piggy’s Squealin’ Chili,” cooked up by Michelle Gum with a secret recipe of pulled pork, cilantro and Mojo sauce, which gave the chili a delightfully tangy flavor. “The Mojo marries up real well with the chili powder,” Michelle said. It sure does; this chili was MY favorite!
Another great chili, and my vote for best name: “Texas Roadhouse Man-Up Chili,” made with chorizo sausage, ground chuck and coffee! Kulpak Katering is the creator of this tasty blend; no beans included, the owner told me, because “real Texas chili doesn’t have beans.”Fun event, great chili, and a motorcycle skills riding competition; an enjoyable Saturday afternoon to help fund an important cause: Central Florida Crimeline: 800-423-TIPS.
“Dorothy the Swinger” (she says that’s the name she uses on her radio show) is a vegan. Is vegan chili a tough sell for a biker crowd? “Yeah, people expect meat in their chili. But a lot of people don’t eat meat.”