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.

Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe's "Nutcracker Chili"

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"

“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!

"Texas Roadhouse Man-Up Chili"

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.

The Ribbon Riders

My friends the Ribbon Riders were there. They do great work for those fighting breast cancer, and they cook up a mean pot ‘o chili!  (Click here for earlier blog post on Ribbon Riders).

Vegan Chili

“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.”

Is the Dachsund a Chili Dog?

Law enforcement chili team, Lake County, FL

Law Enforcement Motor Challenge

These guys (and ladies too) can ride!

About Glen Abbott
Glen Abbott is a Florida-based travel writer & photographer. He specializes in writing about motorcycle touring and travel, and his work appears regularly in Harley-Davidson's HOG magazine, American Iron, and other publications.

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18 Comments
  1. Sandy C.

    January 13, 2011

    Thanks for the write up. Does it get cold in Florida, last years chili cook off we had rain, sleet and snow flakes on the same day. This year it was delightfully cool and sunny. Hence the nearly 3,000 person turn out. Next year we will bus the attendees from the nearby mall into the event! Thats a good problem. Even the Clydesdales had a good time! S

  2. Poi

    January 13, 2011

    wow I need to go to one of these – $5 for all that chilli! amazing!

  3. Chris M

    January 11, 2011

    It is a great event, been to the last 3 and always a good time. The booths are entertaining, the comradery is great and the competition is fierce! :) Raising money for a great cause and getting together with your community, can’t ask for a better Saturday afternoon.

  4. I’ve always wanted to go to a chili cook-off. I agree, any day is a good day for chili!
    Christy @ Ordinary Traveler recently posted..Guaguas in the DR and How to Avoid Being Overcharged 2

  5. Laurel@ExpatGermany

    January 10, 2011

    I wouldn’t have expected a chili cook off in Florida, I always thought they were held in cooler places. This post has inspired me to make a pot of chili this week!
    Laurel@ExpatGermany recently posted..4 Reasons to Turn a Holiday Romance Into the Real Thing

  6. Timm I.

    January 10, 2011

    Great article and nice pics! We were at this event, and have been for the past 5 years. Great fun for a great cause!

  7. Lorna - the roamantics

    January 10, 2011

    i’ve never been to a chili cookoff! okay, if a cross-country trip ends up being part of my rtw this year, i’m going to find one :) fun post!
    Lorna – the roamantics recently posted..Squatting in Sihanoukville- Cambodia

  8. Amy

    January 9, 2011

    My mouth is watering. Chili is the ultimate comfort food for me, especially during the winter months.
    Amy recently posted..My Wallet Got Nicked in Hanoi … In Less Than 24 Hours

  9. The NVR Guys

    January 9, 2011

    YUMMM! That chili looks delicious. I love the woman who is making vegan chili. It takes a lot of courage to go to a chili cook-off and make something vegan.

    Vegan chili woman, if you read this blog… “YOUR AWESOME!”
    The NVR Guys recently posted..We’re Doing a Mileage Run

  10. Jim

    January 9, 2011

    Love chilli, but it’s off the menu at our house…gets my wife itching.

  11. Jozef Maxted

    January 9, 2011

    Haha does it ever get cold in Florida? The Chile looks good though! Looks like a really fun event!
    Jozef Maxted recently posted..Frightcitement!

  12. jade

    January 9, 2011

    I absolutely LOVE chili cook-offs! It looks delicious and I kind of really want chili right now!!
    jade recently posted..Traveler’s Night In- Off the Beaten Track Edition

  13. inka

    January 9, 2011

    You sure can pick the best events. Had to laugh at the chili dog, poor mutt!!
    inka recently posted..How a glamour granny keeps fit to travel

  14. Kieron

    January 8, 2011

    This looks like a lot of fun (and delicious too!), I had no idea that they existed!

    We will have to try and get to one somewhere in the US when we get there later this year! :)
    Kieron recently posted..7 reasons why you should take that round-the-world trip and travel now!

  15. Jeremy B

    January 8, 2011

    Yummy! It’s bee so cold and foggy here in northern California that this chili sounds really good! I need to warm up! :)
    Jeremy B recently posted..A new year- a new challenge- a new direction- and a new blog

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