How to Host a Chili Cook-off. Chili cook-offs range from a full-blown fundraising competition to a friendly challenges among family and friends. You can easily host a small-scale cook-off for an select group and turn the proceedings into a memorable event.
Select a date, time and location for your chili cook-off. Most chili cook-offs take place in the fall when the weather gets cooler and people want to eat hot, hearty foods.
Decide whether you want participants to bring a finished chili dish or prepare the chili from scratch onsite. If they prepare it onsite, then the location needs must be able to handle the appropriate number of cooks. If you have the space, go for this. Watching the chefs prepare their dishes in competition with each other can be as exciting as watching a race.
Choose a theme for your cook-off. You can require participants to cook Southwestern style or prepare cowboy chilis. An unusual theme such as "Witches Brew" can be fun close to Halloween. Buy decorations to complement your theme, such as chili pepper lights, cowboy hats or Texas flags. Be sure to purchase the bowls, spoons, cups and plenty of liquid.
Send invitations that illustrate the theme and explain the categories and rules. Mail the cook-off invitations at least 3 to 4 weeks prior to the cook-off.
Stock up on the traditional sides, such as shredded cheese, chopped onions, rice, corn chips, sour cream, pepper sauce, tortillas, crackers and cornbread. Everyone has a different preference for eating chili, so be sure to cover all the bases. Offer other dishes such as green salad to prevent chili overload.
Award prizes for different categories, such as Best Beanless Chili, Best Vegetarian Chili and Best Cook's Costume. Select the judges prior to the date of the cook-off. Let the contestants decide whether to use recipes use provide or their concoctions. Award a prize for Best Original Recipe.
If you're cooking onsite, keep fire extinguishers and first aid kits handy.