The 43rd annual chili cook-off for the Top of Texas pod of the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI) — a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization — is headed to Parker in a partnership with Southfork Ranch.
The nonprofit’s subchapter, Top of Texas pod, will hold two competitions at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 13, and noon Sunday, May 14 at Southfork Ranch, which is located at 3700 Hoggs Drive in Parker. Each year, all proceeds benefit select charities with Parker Volunteer Fire Department and Irving Police Athletic League receiving donations this year.
John Pierce, the current state champion in the CASI men’s competition, said the nonprofit uses entry fees to cover some overhead costs, including ingredients and trophies, but the remainder of the money is earmarked for charities. The organization will also solicit donations from community businesses to help provide ingredients and save money to be able to donate more money.
“All we do is raise money for charity,” said Cathy Pierce, a member of the Top of Texas pod and ninth place finisher at the women’s state competition.
“That was our whole vision of CASI; our whole goal is to raise money for charity and give back to the community through every pot of chili,” John said.
This year, Cathy said there will be a people’s choice category where anyone can cook and compete for a $100 first prize. For that competition, there will be tasting cups sold in addition to revenue raised through the $30 entry fees for the Saturday and Sunday competitions.
Part of the local chili cook-off is a junior competition with a $10 entry fee geared toward younger cooks ages 8-17.
The first-place winner of the Saturday cook-off will also receive an automatic qualification to the 56th annual Terlingua International Chili Cook-Off held in November.
In the competition itself, both days start with a full field of cooks vying for one of around 20 places at what is called the “final table,” which competes for the top award. The competitions also reset meaning those who may not take home the top prize May 13 can re-enter and try again May 14.
Judges from the community evaluate each of the chilis selecting the “final table” and eventually the winner who will receive an invitation to Terlingua International. The two days of competition create a need for about 140 judges with more community volunteer judges needed for the May 14 cook-off.
Additionally, the Top of Texas pod’s cook-off will be held during Southfork Ranch’s monthly Trade Days for the first time since 1988 with several vendors from the area. Janna Timm, the general manager at Southfork, said the venue is happy to host the competition.
“We are super excited about it, and we have lots of space to offer,” Timm said. “We value what they do and hope that we can continue to do it.”
Timm added that there is also a mutually beneficial relationship with holding the cook-off during Trade Days.
“It’s a good fit for Southfork and doing it at Trade Days will be fun,” Timm said. “We’re trying to boost Trade Days, but after finding out more about it, we found it is a good organization that we want to be partners with.”
For the full story, see the May 3 issue of The Wylie News.