This year, the Cloverdale Rodeo is celebrating the launch of their 1st Annual Cloverdale Cowboy Cook-off and we were so happy to be asked to be a part of it! Today was the official kick-off of the competition and with it we seen the judging of the pie, chili and bacon divisions, with contestants travelling from as far as Texas to compete.
As a guest judge for the CASI Pacific Pod Chili Competition, I have to admit I was a little intimidated – I’ve never judged a chili competition before! Lucky for us, the head judge did a really great job in explaining the ins and outs of the chili basics, so we knew exactly what we were looking for. We covered colour (the best chilis resemble a brick red colour), texture, consistency, smell and taste of course! We tried chilis that tasted spicy, chilis that tasted like curry, and chillis that were so delicious that we wanted to eat the whole bowl!
After 13 chili tasters, handfuls of saltine crackers (to cleanse the palette between tastings), and a whole bottle of water, I can say that I’m now fairly confident in my chili tasting abilities! We had a blast learning all about the different flavours present in each dish, different techniques and how the chunks of meat are really the only chunks that should be noticeable in a chili. I always make mine with mushrooms, but I won’t be anymore!
Check out the judging area tomorrow (located near the first aid station and the entrance to the midway) to be a spectator as they judge the ultra-competitive pork shoulder, brisket, chicken and rib competitions. Unlike the chili competition, these judges must actually be certified (and specially trained) BBQ tasting judges. It’s serious business! We found great signs like this one throughout the BBQ designated area letting people know how they can get involved in BBQ tasting (and locally too).
After we finished our judging, we submitted our confidential reports (there were strict rules for discussing anything chili related while tasting), and then made our way over to the main entertainment stage to await the announcement of the winners. Prize ribbons were awarded to the top 10 contestants, as they counted down to the first place winner.
After we were finished judging, we heard rumours of a chili submission from a travelling BBQ’er all the way from Texas. Because everything is marked in numbered codes, we had no idea which one this was – but we assumed it was one of the more awesome tasting ones! We assumed right, as Spud Griffin from Texas was crowned the King of Chili during the awards ceremony!
Congratulations Spud on a job extremely well done!