This weekend: Red Apron Chili Cookoff
What makes a great chili cookoff? Well, you need a group of very competitive chili heads and most importantly, a chief judge that makes sure rules are followed to select the best of the best.
Meet Michael Freedman, of Somers, Connecticut, the chief judge for the first annual Red Apron Chili Cookoff. Freedman, an expert on sanctioned chili cookoff judging, will head the judging team on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Tanger II Outlet Center of Hilton Head. The first stoves are lit at 10 a.m. Winners will be announced around 4 p.m.
"It's very important to insure that the judging process follows the rules set by the International Chili Society," explained Freedman. "The chilies are labeled in a double blind method that prevents the judges from knowing which entry is from what cook."
According to the International Chili Society a winning chili combines:
TASTE Taste, above all else is the most important factor. The taste should consist of the combination of the meat, peppers, spices, etc, with no particular ingredient being dominant, but rather a blend of the flavors. CONSISTENCY Chili must have a good ratio between sauce and meat. It should not be dry, watery, grainy, lumpy, or greasy.
AROMA Chili should smell good. This also indicates what is in store when you taste it.
COLOR Chili should look appetizing. Reddish brown is generally accepted as good. Chili is not yellow or green. BITE Bite or after taste is the heat created by the various type of chili peppers and chili spices.
Freedman will lead a team of local chefs and celebrities who will be responsible for selecting the winners in four separate categories. Chefs that have signed up to judge to date are Tray Hunter of Palmetto Electric, Joseph Iaco of Bluffton Today, Barry Kaufman of Hilton Head Monthly Magazine, Ted Huffman of Bluffton Barbecue, Brittany Shane of WSAV-TV, Dee Lehr, local caterer and Bruce Christensen of Belfair Plantation.
Freedman, a chili cook for over 20 years, has won numerous chili cookoffs in the categories of Red Chili, Chili Verde and Salsa in cookoffs held in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Connecticut, New York, Florida, New Hampshire and Maine He has also been the chief judge at the South Carolina State, San Antonio Regional, Long Island New York Regional and others. He has organized cookoffs from New England to Texas, one of which was the Seven Chili Cookoff to benefit troops overseas in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. Joining Freedman will be Vicki Marnick, the administrator, of the International Chili Society office in Jacksonville, FL who will be the scorekeeper at this event.
Sponsoring this event are the Bluffton Sun, the Island Packet, Palmetto Electric, Comfort Suites in Bluffton and the Hilton Garden Inn, the official cooks hotel.
The Great Pretenders will take the stage starting at 10:30 a.m. for a musical sidedish to the day's main entree.
Starting at 12:30 p.m. Lowcountry Boil will perform a music combination of basic elements of rock n’ roll and a push of bluegrass. Spectators will be toe tapping and leg slapping, while the chilis are brewing.
The band includes the furious mandolin of Jevon Daly and Benjamin Vaught handles lead guitar duties. Bassist Paul Leech provides the bouncy upright bass that keeps the crowd dancing, and Rich Militek rips the banjo. Together, their three and four part harmonies are said to be a delight to the ear.
Advance Tickets for this event are on sale at Bluffton Self Help for $10. The day of the event tickets are $10 with a bag of nonperishable food and $15 without a food donation. For more information on joining the cooking line up or tickets visit blufftonselfhelp.org or call BSH at 843-757-8000.
Bluffton Self Help, Inc. is a nonprofit organization in Bluffton, SC and was founded in 1987. The mission of the organization is to help those individuals in the greater Bluffton area who are in need of short-term, documented financial assistance and to also provide them with the most fundamental needs, such as FREE food and clothing, while urging them to become more self-reliant. In the past year the agency has assisted over 22,000 clients.
United Way of the Lowcountry campaign contributions fund 32 partner agencies and 42 programs in Beaufort and Jasper counties. Those partner agencies focus on one or more of United Way’s priorities to achieve better HEALTH, EDUCATION, SHELTER, NUTRITION and INCOME in Beaufort and Jasper counties.