Spicing up fall
Area cooks bring game face to De Soto Rotary Club Chili Cook-off
As he served up a small bowl of chili Saturday at the De Soto Rotary Club's chili cook-off at Zimmerman's Kill Creek Farm, Steve Dowdy said chili cook-off participants are into two things.
"We like to have fun, and we like spicy food," the Kansas City, Mo., man said.
As for proof of the latter part of that statement, Dowdy could only add, "Well we are chili makers."
Proof of the fun was in the chili pepper earring dangling from Dowdy's ear.
Dowdy and his wife, Jerri, were two of the contestants in the chili cook-off. Their stalls, Steve's Duck Blind Chili and Jerri's Dumb Blonde Chili, shared a tent but not recipes.
"We're not a team," Jerri said. "We did not start out with the same recipe."
Steve started entering cook-offs about five years ago at the urging of one of the couple's friends. Jerri joined him a few years later. Since then, both have experienced success.
"Last year, he was the Missouri state champion. This year, I was," Jerri said.
The Dowdys and other regulars of the cook-off circuit saw Saturday's event as a tune up for the biggest event on the local chili calendar, the Williams Chili Challenge coming up Oct. 14 and 15 in Lenexa.
But the De Soto event served another purpose too. Points collected there counted toward the goal of the really committed contestants -- an invitation to the International Chili Championship Cook-off in Terlingua, Texas.
To get there, contestants have to impress qualified judges with the color, aroma, consistency, after bite and, of course, taste of their chili.
Peggy Velasquez of Mission has competed at Terlinqua, winning a drawing for a stove she used in Saturday's Rotary event. Her secret to getting there was good, fresh spices, she said.
It certainly wasn't a secret recipe. Velasquez will gladly share her recipe, confident no one can make it better.
There is one ingredient common to chili that is absent from all contest chili.
"There's no beans," Velasquez said. "There's no competition for beans."