No Holds Barred Chili Cook-Off: A Champion Is Crowned

With just the slightest hint of a chill in the air, Saturday afternoon couldn't have been a more ideal day for a chili cook-off. Luckily, the men and women of the No Holds Barred Chili Cook-Off were dishing out bowl after bowl of the stuff at Shady Tavern.

This year's cook-off saw 19 teams compete for a grand prize that included bragging rights as well as the entire take from the door (and with Shady Tavern packed to the rafters with folks who paid $5 each for a spoon and a bowl, that was no small prize). Awards were also given to teams for the spiciest chili, the most original chili and the peoples' choice vote.

Up against two-time champions the Chili Kings (which was actually a women-run team of chili connoisseurs), teams had a difficult time winning the judges' hearts and palates, but one managed to come out ahead of everyone else: Come And Take It. The team from Sugar Hill Studios, which had fashioned a Come And Take It flag that swapped a chili spoon for a cannon, placed first with their thick, meaty and slightly sweet yet spicy chili that included garnishes of spicy crackers, sour cream with green onions and shredded queso fresco.

Other strong contenders included a chicken chili served with cornbread, a fire-roasted chili that the judges proclaimed "most original," and a chili with an odd yet maddeningly delicious caramel undertone that left the judges puzzled as to the mystery ingredient.

For more photos from the event, check out our slideshow.

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Katharine Shilcutt