City of West Palm Beach Chili Cookoff

Hey, it’s the WEEKEND and also Day 2 of the Social Media Club South Florida’s 30-day blogging challenge.

Yesterday the City of West Palm Beach held their Annual Chili Cookoff! It’s a cool event where each department within the city cooks up their best chili, works hard to decorate their area, and win one of the many coveted prizes presented by the distinguished judges. As we found out, it is a very competitive competition.

The "Distinguished Judges" with Chris Roog getting ready to try the ORGANIC chili from the Mayor's office.
The “Distinguished Judges” with Chris Roog getting ready to try the ORGANIC chili from the Mayor’s office.

This year the judges were (from left to right in the above picture) Ginger Gowing of Ginger’s Dance Party fame, local foodie Samantha Timmerman, local writer/party animal DowntownDana, and yours truly. It was my second year as a judge and Ginger’s fifth. The goal was to try each of the 10+ chilis and then grade each on a scale of 1 to 5.

Let’s get this party started!

We were chaperoned by our Deputy City Administrator Dorritt Miller who made sure that the judges stayed honest and that we always had a fresh set of cups and spoons (thank you).

Keep that outfit clean!!!
Keep that outfit clean!!!

The fire department and their fantastic chili held what I’m going to go ahead and call the “Chili Cup”, seen on the right in the picture above. Not only was their chili great, but they pulled out all the stops to win over the judges favor including having one of their fire fighters serve, as Ginger put it, “all the girls except for Aaron”. The Fire department did not win.

Open Wide

Then the fire department let DowntownDana try on the helmet and hold the ax, which hampered her ability to feed herself and forced Ginger to help. Yes, it got a bit weird.

Tasting the City Engineering Dept. Chili

Being foodies, DowntownDana and Samantha took the judging very seriously. Here they are having a side-bar discussion how the engineering department’s choice to have a honey and spicy chili brought out the delicate tones of cinnamon which danced on their sensitive taste buds.

The horses made noise

The West Palm Beach Parks and Recreation department not only takes care of our great parks, but also produces many of our award-winning events such as Fourth on Flagler and Clematis by Night . They are extremely creative an won the “Most Creative” chili award.

Congresswoman Lois Frankel checking out the Chili Cookoff

At this point in the party Congresswoman and former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel stopped by to make sure everything was under control.

Most Authentic Chili

After an “energetic” discussion among the judges it was time to hand out the awards. My personal favorite was the Cincinnati style chili cooked up by Jeff Green, our current Finance Director who will take on the roll as City Administrator on November 11th. The finance department won the award for “Most Authentic Chili”.

Now I’m craving Skyline Chili!

Grand Prize goes to the West Palm Beach Police Department

The winner of the grand prize was the Police Department who mixed things up this year with a Caribbean style chili, mixing the traditional spicy chili with some jerk flavors. Very nice!

Of course, the real story that everyone walked away talking about is why on earth Ginger decided to wear all white to a Chili Cookout and how she actually managed to keep it completely spotless through the entire process.

You can check out all the pictures here (this will actually be a link once I upload the other pictures).