Throwing a Fall Chili Cook-Off

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Everyone has their favorite chili recipe. Long debates are had over which meat, beans and spices to use, so throwing a chili cook-off is a great way to settle who has the best chili once and for all. Planning a party is easy, but there are lots of details involved so make sure you have a partner in crime to help you with the preparations.

Invitations

For this type of party I like to create a Facebook event so we can get a conversation going. Nothing like some friendly taunts to bring out people’s competitive nature!

Setup

Make sure you have plenty of table space for the chili contest. I recommend a separate table for dinnerware and fixings. The host should provide all the fixings and get creative with them. To make the competition even more exciting make it a chili and cornbread competition so guests will bring cornbread too.

Decor

For chili contests, go with fall colors or full on Tex-Mex. Red and white checkered tablecloths set a spicy mood, and bring on the chilies! Get a bunch of fiery red and bright green chilies and spread them out on the tables. Add candles and wildflowers and you’ll have created a fun mood.

Voting

Make the voting process fun and have a hard cutoff time for tasting so there’s no cheating. I don’t know how competitive your friends are, but I don’t trust mine when it comes to competitions — we’re all in it to win it! Print up letter signs to display with the chili pots so there’s no favoritism and create matching voting sheets. Set out a mason jar with golf pencils so you don’t run out of voting supplies.

Award

Have some fun with the award. Make it silly like a string necklace of chili’s and a hot sauce bottle or for an annual event order a trophy that can be passed on from year to year.

By the end of the evening everyone will be full and happy. Make sure to take lots of pictures and post them on the Facebook event page so everyone can enjoy them. Don’t forget to remind them that they have 364 days to prepare for the next competition!

xo, Elizabeth

Photo credits: Elizabeth Lamont

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