Chili Cook-Off Judges
Tuesday morning on the lawn of the Angel Fire Resort Country Club, I joined four other distinguished iron-stomached comrades chosen to act as judges for Angel Fire Resort’s employee Chili Cook Off and end-of-season event. The judges included John Burt, Elle Walls, and Alberto Cisneros Chacon from the Resort, as well as Mayor Barbara Cottam, and myself.
The executive table they set up for us was well equipped with water, milk, and crackers so that we could cleanse our palates between tastings. Raine Williams and Christy Germsheid gave us instructions. Our rules were to judge each chili on its own merit, not to compare it to another entry. We were to use a new spoon for each taste and to pace ourselves. (This one we soon learned was very important!) We were asked not to talk to our fellow judges about the chili or to compare notes. Each chili was to be judged on a 0-10 point system with 10 being the best for Aroma, Color, Consistency, Taste, and Aftertaste. Great chili should look good, smell good, and taste good!
And so we began. They brought us each a small cup of chili marked A, gave us each a ballot marked A, and the judging began. I took very serious my desire to gain the essence of the aroma, see the visual appeal of the color, and then pick out the blend of spices and peppers as I savored each bite. Did one taste dominate another? Was it consistently pleasing to my tongue and my tummy? Did it have a nudge, a kick, or an overpowering knock-you-on-your-bum aftertaste? So much to determine for each individual chili! Some were very traditional in color and taste, others a new culinary experience. After cup C or D (I can’t really remember), I took the instructions for pacing myself quite to heart as I wiped the sweat off my brow! One of our judges had told us before we began that he is a connoisseur of chili. After my delicious term as a chili cook off judge, I think that I can say that too!
After we had completed our judging duties, we were anxious to know the identity of the secret chefs who prepared our chili choices. So we stayed for the announcement of the winners. First place went to Mark Ricketson, head of the IT department. Second place was awarded to Amber Burns of Legends Bar & Grill at the Lodge. And third place was a tie between Lisa Mitchell of Accounting and Earlene Lade of the Par & Grill at the Country Club. Congratulations to all the winners! But I tell you all nine entries were absolutely delicious, and I had a great time participating. It has made me think we need to have a Chili Cook Off fundraising event for the Chamber in the near future. Yum!