The 5th Annual Chili Cook Off

The 5th Annual Chili Cook Off was another sizzling success! Every year, R&A kicks off Super Bowl weekend with a fierce chili cooking completion. This year, our judges were truly non-partisan, as no employee spouses were allowed. After careful consideration and deliberation, the following chefs emerged victorious.  Congratulations to Ashley Knepper, Melissa Valdez, Lisa Cardona, Melissa Gilmore, Gillian Luce and Isabelle Keegan! See the winning recipes below:


BEST OVER ALL: Melissa’s Dante’s Peak

1/2 pound bacon

1 pound ground round

1 pound ground pork

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

6 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped

8 Anaheim peppers, seeded and diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules

1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2 (16 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained

2 (16 ounce) cans chili beans, drained

1 (12 fluid ounce) can beer

3 ounces tomato paste

1 ounce chili paste

2 cups water


Place bacon in a large soup pot. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain excess grease, leaving enough to coat bottom of pot Remove bacon, drain on paper towels and chop.

Brown beef and pork in pot over medium high heat. When meat is browned, stir in the bell pepper, onion, jalapeno peppers, habanero peppers, Anaheim peppers, garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, chili powder, bouillon, crushed tomatoes, whole tomatoes, beer, tomato paste, chile paste and water.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans and bacon and continue simmering for another 30 minutes.

BEST TASTING: Ashley’s Chicken Chili Verde

4 Chicken Breasts

8 tomatillos

2 jalapenos

2 serrano pepper

2 cubanelle peppers

6 oz. chicken bone broth

1 whole garlic

1 bushel of green onion

1 bushel of cilantro

1 block of parmesan cheese




Bake and shred chicken breasts. Dice tomatillos, chop jalapenos, serrano and cubanelle peppers, garlic and half of the green onion and half of the cilantro. Add everything to a crockpot and top with bone broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low for 6 -8 hours. Chop the remainder of the cilantro and green onion and shred the parmesan for toppings to the chili. ENJOY!


BEST TONGUE BURNER: Gillian’s Firehouse Chili

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic

1 30 ounce can chili beans

1 29 ounce can tomato sauce

1 28 ounce can stewed tomatoes, cut up

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon bottled hot pepper sauce

Hot cooked macaroni

Dairy sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Sliced green onions (optional)

Bottled hot pepper sauce (optional)


In a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven, cook meat, onion, celery and garlic until meat is brown and onion is tender; drain. Stir in undrained chili beans, tomato sauce, undrained tomatoes, chili powder, and the 1 tablespoon bottled hot pepper sauce. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours.

Serve chili over hot cooked macaroni. If you like, top with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and green onions, and pass additional hot pepper sauce


2 Lbs. Ground Beef

1 Package Bacon, cut into small pieces

1 Green, Yellow & Red Pepper, chopped

6 Cloves Garlic, minced

½ Bunch Fresh Cilantro, chopped

2 Cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies

2 Cans Tomato Sauce

1 Can Black Beans

1 Can Red Kidney Beans

1 Container Chicken Stock

1 Pint Sour Cream

Package Shredded Mexican Cheeses (or sharp Cheddar)

1 Tbsp Cumin

1 Tbsp Chipotle Chili Powder

1 Tbsp Oregano

1 Tbsp Basil

1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper

1 Tbsp Curry Powder

1 Packet Goya Sazon (seasoning)

Salt & Pepper (S/P)



Jalapeños, halved (gut the seeds if you don’t like it HOT) & stuffed with below

Cream Cheese

Shredded Cheddar Cheese



Rinse beans thoroughly

Pour chicken stock, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and beans in large pot (medium heat), add


Cook bacon in pan and add to large pot – keep the grease

Sauté the red, yellow and green peppers in the bacon grease, then add to large pot

Brown the beef (sprinkle with S/P), then add to large pot

Add all the spices (including S/P)

Let simmer, stir occasionally

Cook the Jalapeño Poppers – 350º in oven for 25 minutes

Pour chili in bowl, add sour cream, sprinkle of cheese, top with Jalapeño Popper, and dash of cilantro


MOST CREATIVE NAME: Isabelle’s White Hot Chili Pepper’s Chili

1 pound ground chicken

1 medium onion, chopped

1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cans (15-1/2 ounces each) great northern, rinsed and drained

1 can chicken broth

2 cans chopped green chilies

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup sour cream

½ cup whipping cream


In saucepan sauté chicken onion garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add beans broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 min. Remove from heat, stir in sour cream and cream.

Yield: seven servings


*It should be noted that Isabelle was told in private by a judge that her recipe should have won Best Tasting TWO years in a row.

*It should also be noted that Isabelle is the author of this post.


The Annual Chili Cook Off is held every February in the R&A office. If you are interested in being a judge, please email

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