Iíve been living in southeast Wyoming for the past three years, and this marks the first that Iíve made it to the Chugwater Chili Cook-Off.
Man, have I been missing out!
I mean, I should have known to shuffle off to Chugwater much sooner, being somewhat of an enthusiast of spicy food. And who am I to turn down all that chili and fun at such a nice price?
The music was fun (I liked Jalan Crossland particularly), and the gunslinger contest and paper airplane fly-off were certain good for a laugh, not to mention some great photos. I didnít see anyone who wasnít having a good time, and given the rough week I had it was certainly a pleasure to see.
So before I go further, it would seem appropriate to offer my thanks to the Chugwater Chili Cook-Off committee for their hard work, thanks to all the selfless volunteers, to all the musical talent, to the vendors, to the hundreds of friendliest people Iíd seen in a long while and to the many, talented chili chefs. Youíre not cooks; youíre chefs as far as Iím concerned.
Iíd like to now make my editorís choice for the winners of the cook-off. Now, I havenít seen the official results yet, and this is strictly my non-professional opinion, so please take it with a grain of salt (or cup of chili).
For the red chili, Iíd give it to the team assisted by Grant Street Grocery and Market out of Casper, entry No. 405. The chili was a wonderful mix of smoky, sweet and spicy. I later told them they had spoiled me as far as red chili tasting goes. Now, thatís not to detract from the others; all the red chili was great, and you should all be proud of your finished product.
For green chili, I give it to Coffee Grinder Chili. In addtion to having great, hearty flavor, I was impressed that the chef and his family all putting their heart and soul into their food. It was a family effort, and I saw quite a bit of that throughout my time in Chugwater. Keep up the great work.
I give this one to Heavenly Fire, particularly their extra hot, because I like a challenge. I was pleasantly surprised by this entry. Sometimes when going for an extra-hot salsa or sauce, one can go overboard with the kick or the heat. That wasnít the case here Ė the flavors of the peppers and other fresh vegetables in the salsa came first, then the shot came later, as it should be.
You know, youíd think for something covered in camouflage, it would be less conspicuous, but that wasnít the way things were with Duck Blind Chili. Right in the middle of the chili area of the cook-off sat a blind. Donning long beards in an homage to ďDuck DynastyĒ and complete with duck calls all dressed to the hilt in camo that would make any hunter proud. The crew was proud to pose for photos, too.
So if you live in Platte County or are visiting right around this time of year and havenít made your way down to Chugwater, check out the cook-off if youíve never been there. Even if you have been there, go again. Bring an empty stomach, hang on to your spoon and enjoy.