Six unique chilies, three judges and hundreds of hungry patrons all converge Dec. 1 for the Historic Dublin Business Association’s annual Chili Cook-Off.
For the second year, restaurants compete for the Chili Cook-Off title: defending overall winner Brazenhead, defending people’s choice winner La Chatelaine, the Dublin Village Tavern, Mezzo, Tucci’s and J. Liu.
The Chili Cook-Off gives local restaurants a chance to experiment with new flavors and cooking methods. Perhaps most importantly, it gives the restaurants a chance to attract new customers and compete for the bragging rights of Historic Dublin’s best chili.
Prior to last year, the cook-off was hosted by the restaurants, but the competitors were individuals. The event’s growing popularity began to make individual participation too costly due to the amount of chili needed, says Dublin Village Tavern owner Tim Picciano.
This year, Brazenhead has its eyes on the prize again after last year’s Cajun-influenced chili won the overall title. “It was great to win last year and we had a great chili. It’s all for fun and it’s great for the community and the City of Dublin,” says Brazenhead General Manager Mark Stalzer.
Pete Meyst, head chef at Brazenhead, enjoys the challenge of improvising chili techniques. “We improvise in our cooking style and choice of proteins and beans,” says Meyst. “The fact that it is cooked one batch at a time gives the chili time to develop its final taste.”
Although improvisation plays a key role, Meyst says there are also some essential ingredients for good chili: properly-cooked meat and beans, celery, onion, peppers and tomato.
While the cook-off is all about fun, that doesn’t mean Brazenhead is willing to give up its title. “We were fortunate to win last year and you can expect us to defend our title,” says Stalzer. “Since everyone lost to us, I am sure they are gunning for us now.”
One of those competitors is Dublin Village Tavern. “Last year, the Dublin Village Tavern prepared the best traditional chili I’ve ever tasted, but we didn’t win,” says Picciano. “It seemed like the judges went for the more unique and uncommon chili recipes, and we’ll remember that this year.”
Straying from traditional chili will not be easy for the Dublin Village Tavern, but it is possible.
“I’m a traditional girl at heart and I believe the true test of a chili is getting the perfect combination of heat and seasonings,” says Geri Ziemba, Dublin Village Tavern chef.
When trying new recipes, Ziemba advises making small adjustments. “(Add) a little of your seasonings, peppers, etc. at a time. Let it simmer for a while and then taste it to see if it needs more.”
ust as Meyst gives his chili time to develop taste, Ziemba stresses the importance of time. “Don’t rush it, let the chili simmer, allowing the flavors to develop,” Ziemba says.
Blaine Kelly is a contributing writer and an intern for the City of Dublin’s Community Relations Department. Feedback welcome at email@example.com.
Guinness Black Lager Chili
The Dublin Village Tavern offers this traditional recipe from last year’s competition.
1 lb. ground beef 1 lb. ground pork 2 Tbsp. olive oil 1 large yellow onion, chopped 1 green pepper, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 3 (15-oz.) cans chili beans 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste 1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce 1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes 1 bottle Guinness Black Lager 1 cup water 2 1/2 Tbsp. white cornmeal 2 Tbsp. chili powder 1 Tbsp. cumin 1 Tbsp. garlic powder 1 Tbsp. salt 2 tsp. black pepper
Cook ground beef and pork over medium high heat, crumbling meat and stirring until evenly browned and no longer pink. Drain excess fat.
Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper and minced garlic. Cook and stir until onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add meat, chili beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, beer and water. Stir well. Sprinkle in the corn meal, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt and black pepper.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce to medium low and simmer for at least 2 hours before serving.