North Conway Chili cook-off aims to bring heat to winter

Special to the Union Leader |
February 28. 2013 9:04PM

NORTH CONWAY - The 10th annual Chilly Chili Cook-off Stroll this Saturday aims to offer a little internal heat as the winter winds down.

The Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce's event in North Conway Village will warm attendees up from head to toes, as they taste the spicy creations of more than 50 chefs. The culinary experts will compete in two categories, one which fellow village-strollers will judge.

The event is the International Chili Society (ICS) Regional Cook-off, and a people's choice chili and corn bread competition, too.

"It truly is a stroll," Mary Seavey, chamber event manager, said Thursday. "It's total village involvement this year."

Seavey said participating businesses are putting their own personal spin on the day. The Penguin Gallery and Zeb's General Store will offer hot sauce samples and Leila Rose will have cupcakes with a Mexican flair.

There's something happening at 24 sites in the village, from a Crazy Hat workshop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Rugged Mill, to a pottery wheel demonstration at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen North Conway. The chamber invites people to stroll around the village donning their crazy hat creation. A best hat prize will be awarded by a panel of secret judges.

Chili and corn bread sampling takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Last year the team from Memorial Hospital won the People's Choice Award for the Best Vegetarian Chili, with Christmas Farm Inn taking the top slot in the Best Chili category. They'll have plenty of competition this year, with chefs from local restaurants and several nonprofits vying for the love of strollers' taste buds.

The chamber hosts the ICS competition in its parking lot. Seavey said the chefs competing at this level come from all over the Northeast, and that one enterprising chef is making the trip down from New Brunswick, Canada, just for the event. ICS chefs bring everything they need with them - tents, pots, pans, and are required to prepare and cook everything on site. Competitors must be members of ICS and are judged in three categories: traditional red chili, chili verde, and salsa.

The winner of the ICS-sanctioned cook-off will qualify for the World's Championship Chili Cook-off, which will be held in Palm Springs, Calif., this fall.

Tickets will be available at the three host sites, the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, the North Conway Community Center, and Rafferty's Restaurant & Pub. Tickets for adult are $10; $7 for children from 12 to 6, and kids under 5, when accompanied by an adult, are free.


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