The 17th Annual Fleet Week Chili Cook-Off

5th November 1999

Chili Cook Off Logo

A couple of weekends ago, Anne and I went to the 17th Annual Fleet Chili Cook Off. We got there around lunchtime, which was very good planning, as the chili was ready to eat and we didn't have to wait too long to hear the judging results.

Various groups from the Naval Fleet try their hand at making the best chili. The judges go round and taste all the chilis and award prizes at the end of the day. The public gets to go round and taste it all and vote for their favourite. When you arrive you buy a set of tickets. Each ticket costs a quarter, 25 cents, and each ticket gets you a small sample of chili from any of the booths. 4 tickets gets you a watery beer.

The next photo is looking down the line of booths to the beer tent at the far end. We're about halfway up the line. The guy on the left has been complaining about the lack of burn of the chili so far. Too weak. No glow-in-the-mouth. The couple in the middle just happened to be there. The size of her breasts has nothing to do with why the photo was taken.

We started at the beer end of the booths and worked our way to the other end. I had a sample of every chili, sometimes 2 samples. Anne tasted mine after I had vetted it. The range of chili was surprising. To me, a good chili contains more kidney beans than meat, is firm not runny, and has a bite to it. Most of the chilis on offer here don't subscribe to my views. Not many used kidney beans. Most were pretty runny. All but one was bland in taste. There were some very interesting variations.

One booth had three different types of chili. One was labelled Yesterday's Chili and contained beef. Today's Chili contained turkey meat. Tomorrow's Chili contained buffalo meat. The buffalo chili had a strong gamey flavour that was very interesting. Others used turkey meat, but it's quite a weak meat for chili. Besides, the turkey chilis were really sloppy.

Near the end, we hit one booth that had a lot of people clustered around it. I took one taste and fell in love. It had a bite. Not enough to cauterise your mouth, but enough to give your mouth that glow that says that you've eaten good chili. The guy on the left of this photo liked that chili too. He had several samples of it and we chatted a bit about what makes a good chili. This booth won a prize. All in all, out of the 18 chilis, I only really liked the buffalo chili and the fiery chili. The booths and samplers

This shows the number of booths of chili samples. The figure at the front is obviously Homer Simpson at the Chili Cook-Off. Same shape, same stance, same walk, same look of food-fixation. Homer Simpson at the Chili
  Cook Off

I don't understand this. It's nice to have a religion, I suppose, and exercise it regularly, but please keep it private. We don't want to disturb the horses in the street. Real men Love Jesus

At the end of the day when all the chili was gone, there were the awards to give. The guy at the left is the head military biggie. He runs the place. He is retiring soon, and this is to be his last chili occasion. He officiated last year, and they gave him the fiery red chili shirt as a thank you. He wore it this year. This year, they gave him a similarly coloured pair of boxer shorts. He put them on over his jeans, but this photo was taken before the garment abuse took place. It is hoped that he comes back next year, even though he won't be base commander, to officiate at the 18th Fleet Week Cook Off.

Many prizes were given. There were cheques and prizes for the best chili, the most enthusiastic spruikers, the fieriest chili, the people's choice chili, etc. Lots of awards to encourage the participants.

The Chili Awards