Trout Unlimited

I am sure that all the chili cooks are happy that our long heat wave has ended. It is not a lot of fun standing in front of a hot pot of chili when it is 90 degrees outside, but if the weathermen are correct, our recent cooler weather should last to well past the cook off.

No matter the weather, teams will be at Ridge Ferry Park on Oct. 19 putting their favorite recipes to the test in hopes the judges find their chili worthy of the grand prize of $1,500.

I know that many teams hope that they place in the top three in the judges’ choice category because second place now pays $750 and third place is paying $500 to the cooking team.

The cook off committee made the decision to increase the prize money because not only has it been over 20 years since the prize money increased, but also the feeling was that we can attract a lot more teams with a larger grand prize.

This year the total number of cook sites taken is approaching 60 with teams signing up online, and at least seven cook sites were claimed in the past week.

As usual, we will have a peoples’ choice category with the top five receiving trophies and places six through 10 getting a certificate, which can be framed, that indicates their finish in the cook off. We will also have trophies for the judges choice places first through fifth and certificates for sixth through 10th.

There have been many folks that felt that maybe their chili was near the top 10 but never knew where it stood in the judging process. For the first time ever, judges are going to list the ticket numbers of chilies that scored places 11 through 20.

We hope that we can have those ticket numbers either announced after the awards have been given out or available at the stage on a chart. We want the teams to put their name on the chart so at least those and others can have the satisfaction of knowing what the judges thought of their recipe.

There is still plenty of time to enter a team. It costs only $50 to reserve a cook site and that entitles the cook to enter one recipe. An additional recipe can be entered for another $50. For each recipe entered a team will receive two T-shirts, an apron and a flag, all with the current cook off logo.

It is easy to register a team. Just go online to coosavalleytu.org, reserve a site and indicate the number of recipes to be entered. Teams are allowed to enter a maximum of two recipes on a single cook site but if they wish to enter a third or fourth recipe they must reserve a second cook site.

Remember one thing, the judges are human and each and every one has their own concept of what a good chili is. This year we are happy to announce that at least half of the judges will be new to the judging process. We have reached out to cooks at restaurants in the area and they are looking forward to being part of the process. We talked some cooks from previous cook offs into becoming judges and we have a few new judges that just love to eat and chili is one of their favorite foods.

I have heard folks that used to be regular teams at previous cook offs say, “Why even try? The same teams win every year.” This year I challenge these folks to shine their pots, fill the propane tanks, buy the ingredients and become a part of the oldest chili cook off in North Georgia.

All you need is a table, a pot, heat source, ingredients and the determination needed to win. You just might be the cook that dethrones a past champ and takes home the top prize of $1,500.

The cook off will be held Oct. 19 at Ridge Ferry Park in Rome. Gates open to the public at 10 a.m. Entry to the park is only $5.

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