Friday, January 13, 2012

Alive After Five Chili Cook-Off

Alive after Five happens every month on the Second Thursday if tht month from 5-8 PM on First Street, downtown. January's them for a number of years has been aChili Cook-Off. I attended again this year and sampled 18 of the 34 different chili's there. After careful consideration, I am ready to declare my favorite.
Admission to Alive after Five is only $7.00, and for that you get a wristband that allows you to taste food from the many merchants and vendors who set up shop on the street. And this happens every month, like clockwork, on the second Thursday of the month. It is, I'd say, the best street party in central Florida, with several blocks of First Street closed off and lined with vendors and merchants giving out food and beverage samples, $1 with wristband beer, and wristband holders get a ticket for food at an event sponsored location. It's always a great time, and this year's January event was no exception.

Some of the chili served this year was really awesome. Some was just OK. And some did not really shine. The purpose of the event, though is to have fun. Some of the cooks are home cooks, and some are professional chefs. So, before I give you my results, I want you to keep that in mind. Everyone who participated put their heart and soul into this event which sponsored by and a fundraiser for the Historic Sanford Welcome Center.

First, I must make mention of the Chile names, as two were really outstanding. The first was the chili made by the Sanford Flower Shop: it was called Smokey's Florist Fire Chili. Get it?  I love that name, and their chili was mighty fine too.  The second was prepared by Magnolia Street Market and was called Praise the Lard and Pass the Beer Chili -- it was a beer chili made with pork belly, and also very good. Overall, the two above, along with the Red Solo Cup Chili made by World of Beer came in with a tie for second place, in my opinion. They were all very, very good. In my estimation, one other chili was in the same class but barely, just barely, edged out these there. So I declare all three of the above as in a tie for second place overall for the best chili I ate at the Chili Cook Off.

My winner and championship chili for the contest, by a nose, was the Red Hot Mama's Chili from The Palette, a wine and light fare bar located inside Art Affair Gallery. First place, top notch chili. It was a true Texas-style chili, and Sherry, the chef and creator should know, she's from Texas. I asked her about it and she tells me they hand cut the chuck, roasted the peppers and skinned them, and made all ingredients fresh and from scratch. The care she took in this was evident, as it was for all the top level of chilis. Good job and congratulations to Sherri and The Palette, as well as all the top level chilis.

There were other chilis that were decent, and some not as good. I have listed all the ones I tasted below and given them a ranking. They are alphabetical within their place:
Vendor/Merchant Chili Name Place
The Palette Red Hot Mama's Chili 1st
Magnolia Square Market Praise the Lard and Pass the Beer Chili 2nd
Sanford Flower Shop Smokey's Florist Fire Chili 2nd
World of Beer Red Solo Cup Chili 2nd
Café Rouge Too Hot to Trot Fire Roasted Chili 5th
Candelight Catering Chef Sennet's Even Better Chili 5th 
Taste of Thyme Café Texas Best 5th
Café Rouge Sweet Herb's Three Bean Chili 8th
Framing 408 Cuban Chili 8th
Gander Mountain Gander Mountain's Gas Master's Chili 8th
Healing Laser Clinics Sweet Heat Chili 8th
Little Fish HUGE Pond Sancho's Silly Chili 8th
Skibo's Subs Skibo's Steak Alarm 8th
Superior Sheds Ken 3 Alarm 8th
Gail Williams Insurance White Chili 15th
Gail Williams Insurance Smokin' Chipotle Chili 15th
Harrell & Beverly Gone in 60 Seconds Chili 15th
Tru Valu True Valu Chili 15th

Congratulations to all participants. It was a great and fun event!

1 comment:

  1. How fun to have a night of taste-testing Chili! A hot idea on a cool evening! Alive After Five is THE place to be!