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UPDATE: This post has been updated since it was first published. The total donated to Northwest Harvest has been corrected. An explanation of how many cook-offs have occurred has been added.
And we have winners! Although the field was smaller than last year, the contestants in the Eastlake Zoo's 33rd Annual Chili Cook-off on Saturday were a tasty bunch that made chosing a favorite difficult.
The top three chilis and their cooks, by the vote of those attending the event on Saturday, are:
(Full disclosure: I paid for a bowl and voted.)
The event netted $755 for Northwest Harvest.
Many of the cooks had entered chili in the contest before but some were newcomers to the event. Most spent long hours in the kitchen preparing their entries.
Elissa Rosenbaum had her chili, Everything But the Kitchen Sink, on the stove for 12 hours, then put it through a chillling and warming cycle to get it ready. Her secret? Biscuits cooked on top of the chili.
Although she didn't win, Rosenbaum said later she was "happy that it's (the chili) is gone. I ran out first!"
Martinez, who eventually came in second, said she started cooking at 10 a.m. on Friday. She had entered before but had never placed, so she was excited to have placed. Her chili featured three variations of pork: pork shoulder, pork sausage and ground pork. She was roasting extra peppers Saturday morning to give it some added color.
"I was going to call it 3 Piggies," she said, but her husband signed it in as Mayan Revenge.
Karan Loop, a former employee at the Zoo in the late '70s and early '80s, was proudlly wearing her t-shirt from the second cook-off in 1984 (see attached photo). She won second that year.
(If you have your calculator out at this point, you've probably noticed that the math doesn't add up here. If the first Chili Cook-off was in 1983, this would be the 27th annual event, not the 33rd. Walt Lane from the Zoo explains that there were cook-offs before the official chili cook-off began. He says that about 15 years ago, folks involved in those earlier cook-offs asked that their contributions be acknowledged. "After weeks of beers and debate," Walt says in an e-mail, "the Eastlake Zoo Tavern Permanent Cook-Off Committee, which deals with all cook-off issues, decided to honor those earlier pioneers of chili cook-offs by including their years in the cook-off total." And so it came to pass. Amen.).
Betsy Costello, who cooks under the moniker Factoria Floozy, was back this year. Her crockpot of chili was decorated with a satin, laced-up bustier (see the photo).
Two of the Zoo's original owners, Paul Michelson and Robert Woodson, sat at a table eating chili and passing along tales of the Zoo in its early years to yours truly. Did you know the Zoo used to be called the It'll Do Tavern? And that there was a Chinese restaurant next door? Neither did I!
Another great event. Thanks, Zoo!
It's a busy weekend in Eastlake. Here are a few items to take note of:
Get cookin'! The Eastlake Zoo's 33rd Annual Chili Cook-Off will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2.
This is a great event with loads of tasty chili. And the customers are the judges! Proceeds from the event benefit Northwest Harvest.
Walt from the Zoo says the sign-up sheet is up at the bar. Just ask the bartender for the sheet. They're encouraging people to register early because they're expecting a record number of entrants this year. Several local businesses and clubs have indicated they will be entering.
It costs $15 to enter your chili recipe (one gallon minimum). Entrants get a chili tasting bowl and ballot. Or, if you're not the cooking type, pay $8 to get a tasting bowl and ballot. The first 15 paid entrants get an official Eastlake Zoo Chili Cook-Off t-shirt.
Entrants need to provide their own hot plate or crock pot to keep their chili warm. Vegetarian chili is welcome. Store-bought ingredients are welcome but store-bought chili is not.
For more of the cook-off rules, go to the Zoo's new website.
To get a taste of this event, check out our coverage from last year.
See you at the Zoo on Oct. 2!
UPDATE: This post has been changed since originally published. Jeff Ma is the winner, Will Lemke was one of the third place contestants, and I had the wrong name for the spice in Jeff's chili.
A hungry and enthusiastic crowd of chili lovers descended on the Eastlake Zoo Saturday afternoon for the tavern's 32nd Annual Chili Cookoff.
Proceeds from the cookoff benefit Northwest Harvest. The Zoo's Howard Brown says they raised $535 for the food bank.
Howard didn't have names at hand for the winners but he did have the winning entrant numbers. If you were a winner, let me know and I'll update the post with your name:
A long and tasty line of chili was waiting at the back of the Zoo. Some of the entrants had been competing for years but others, like Patty Loving, were entering for the first time. Her chili recipe? Elk sausage, red wine and bison.
Lots of people were talking about Jeff Ma's chili (I think he was entrant #7) for its Asian-influenced taste. Ma said his secret ingredients included chili paste, soy sauce and Five Spice Powder. And, he made his own flatbread to go with the chili.
Betsy Costello, who entered the "Phactoria Phloozie Chili," said that presentation was important. She had decorated her entry pot with sparkly garland and a sign. And, yes, she comes all the way from Factoria for the event.
Eastlake resident and businessperson Will Lemke (Propadata Films) was on the phone trying to find a crockpot to keep his chili warm. His secret: chorizo, bacon and beef. He'd been cooking for a day.
The competition was fun, spirited and friendly. As Besty Costello said, "It's all for a good cause!"
This sounds like a great event. First prize is $100 and the proceeds benefit Northwest Harvest.
Anyone can enter and anyone can be a judge ... for a small fee. Here are the details:
One of the fun parts about writing for Eastlake Ave. is I'm getting to meet all these amazing people who live in the neighborhood and I'm finding out about great events (like the Eastlake Movie Night) that I didn't know about before.
Case in point: I was at Tako Truk last night and Howard from the Eastlake Zoo came by. The Zoo is preparing for their 32nd Annual Chili Cookoff in October. How could I have missed this for so many years (and I first lived here almost as many years ago as the cookoff has been around)?
Here are the details:
How's that for a fun Eastlake event that also benefits a good cause? See you on Oct. 3!