Chili cook-off spurs friendly competition

Published 12:03 am Sunday, October 5, 2008

NATCHEZ — Even if the weather is still a little warm, the smell of fall — chili — was wafting down the Natchez bluffs Saturday morning.

That was because the Natchez Children’s Home Services / Cellular South Chili Cook-off was on the bluff, and 17 teams were vying to make the best chili.

A fundraiser for the children’s home, this year the cook-off took on a new dimension because it was sanctioned by the International Chili Society, Children’s Home Director of Development Joe Mitchell said.

Email newsletter signup

“The winner will have a chance to advance to the regional cook-off, and from there they have a chance to go to the national cook-off,” Mitchell said.

Because of that, the cook-off had out-of-state teams attend, and at the end of the day, it was out-of-towners Norman and Dianne Melancon, of Gonzales, who took home the first prize for red chili.

Local people, people on pilgrimage and members of different teams walked around the grounds, tasting each others chili and making friendly jabs at each other and their chili.

Many of the chilis had names like “911 chili” or “Hot Lava Chili,” but the most noticeable tag came from the local BASF team, whose final product was dubbed the “$700 Billion Bailout Chili.”

Though it had the tagline “it will make you want to puke,” and chef Larry Woody joked that it had degreaser in it, team member Michael Gunning said he couldn’t share what was in it.

“You can’t ask a competition chili cooker that,” he said.

Local team Delta Rentals took home the people’s choice award as well as the beneficiary award for raising the most money, while the Krewe of Phoenix won the prize for best salsa.