Friday, November 8, 2013

Tailgate Time: Chili Cookoff!

Woohooo it's Friday!  I thought with the weekend upon us and being in the middle of football season I'd share with you one of our recent tailgate ideas!  You know how I love themes, so it should be no surprise to you that I like to theme our tailgates.  This year we've really stepped up our tailgating game within our group of friends so of course we want to keep it fresh and fun so our friends keep coming back regardless of weather!

Pictures from tailgates this season!  So much fun!

Our last tailgate of the season, we did a chili cookoff.  What was great was that we didn't have a lot of food prep on site since everyone brought a chili to share.  My tailgating planning partner and I provided the condiments and utensils and that was that!  Here are my tips and tricks to hosting a chili cookoff:

Plan accordingly
Make sure you have enough space for multiple crockpots or pots of chili.  Also its pretty imperative that you hash out your electricity situation.  For our tailgates we haven't nailed down the electricity thing yet so we had to get a little creative.  Since it was an all day tailgate we had everyone bring their chili hot and ready to serve then had the judging period then reheated any that got cold on a small grill in aluminum roasting pans.  Obviously if you have access to electricity then you just want to make sure you have plenty of outlets and power strips available.

One of two tables we had with cookoff items

Unless you have an abundance of serving spoons on hand, ask each contestant to bring a spoon or ladle for serving.  For eating utensils (bowls and spoons) you can assign this to someone or provide it yourself.  We also had small foam cups for sampling in case people didn't want to use a bowl.  If you want to make your party a little more green you could ask guests to bring their own bowl and spoon for tasting that they can wash afterwards.  Since we didn't want a heap of dirty dishes in the car we opted for disposable options: plastic spoons, styrofoam bowls and cups.

The options are really endless with chili condiments, we had:
- shredded cheese
- oyster crackers
- sour cream
- jalapenos
- tortilla chips
- garlic bread
- corn bread
- rice
- avocados

You could also have pasta, hot sauce, chili peppers, the options really are infinite!  Be clear on what condiments you need or will be providing because apparently that's a grey area our group didn't understand and we ended up with like 10 bags of shredded cheese.

Decide whether to do a voting system or if you pick a panel of judges.  We did a voting system.  Each chili contestant received an entry sheet and a number with a corresponding can to collect votes.  The entry sheet just asked what the chili was called (turkey chili, vegetarian chili, etc.), the level of spiciness and the contestant number.

Entry sheets taped to each crockpot

I cleaned some aluminum cans I had in the recycling, topped them with press and seal wrap then cut a slit in the top for tickets to slip in.  Then I had some extra Ohio State fabric laying around so I wrapped each can in that then numbered them with a wide tipped permanent marker.
Voting cans

All contestant identities were supposed to be kept secret.  If you want to take it that extra step you could disguise all the pots so people don't know who's is who's.  Each guest received two tickets which would be counted as their votes.  At the end of the voting period (which was about an hour and a half to two hours) we tallied up the votes and announced the winner.

Inversely if you decided to do judging, you'd assemble a panel of chili tasters.  Give them numbered samplings of each chili then let them decide the winner(s).

As our prize we had a case of Elevator Brewing's Bleeding Buckeye Red Ale, a 1st place ribbon and a sign to put on the winner's crockpot.  Since our cookoff was a little more small scale we just had one grand prize winner. But you could do 1st, 2nd and 3rd places or grand prize, spiciest, most creative, etc.

The winners, Rob and Emily with Grams Depression Chili Recipe!

It seemed like everyone really enjoyed this tailgate despite the untimely cold and wind!  But I guess that's the risk you take with partying outside.  It was fun to be able to try everyone's different recipes.  Some went with recipes passed down within their families, some tried a new recipe they hadn't made before, it was a great mix and a fun conversation starter!

Have a great weekend!  A new Sunday Soup is coming up next!


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