So, we participated in the South Carolina Chili Cook-Off championship last week and I am finally ready to talk about it. It is with great pain and sadness that I have to announce that Chris's most amazing chili did not win the People's Choice Award.

There, I said it.

I am tempted to go on a rant about how the loss was an injustice of epic proportions.  I could also go on for days about how "popular" opinion often overlooks true quality in nearly every aspect the world around us.*  That would be bitter and a tad immature so I will save my sour grapes for some homemade wine and focus on good parts of the story. 

Truth be told, we had an absolutely amazing time at the Chili Cook-Off.

Friday night was a whirlwind as we crammed in Ivan's soccer practice, a trip to the Mexican grocery store, a few beers at the Cooks Party, and a handful of other errands.  Chris did not actually start making chili until 10 o'clock Friday night so, needless to say, the 6 AM wake-up time came significantly sooner than we would have liked.  Somehow we managed to pull ourselves together and were checked in and setting up our booth earlier than we would normally be at work.  For a Saturday, this was a pretty big deal in and of itself and I feel entitled to pat ourselves on the back for this one.

Opening ceremonies started around 10 and the Cook-Off was in full swing shortly thereafter.  Competition aside, I have to brag that Chris's chili was a big hit. In my (slightly biased) opinion, she nailed a perfect balance of sweetness at the start of each bite followed up by a nice Big Daddy's kick of heat as it danced across my taste buds.  For some of the crowd it was too hot and for Chris is was not hot enough.  For this guy, though, I felt like Goldilocks finding the perfect porridge. I could have eaten Chris's entry in the Cook-Off all day long but unfortunately it was reserved for the voters.

In addition to Chris's submission to the Cook-Off, we also set up shop as a vendor for Big Daddy's Hot Sauce.  Twenty four cases of sauce arrived from Houston the day before the event and we were delighted to share our favorite hot sauce in the world with the people in attendance.  We feel that all four Big Daddy's sauces are a great compliment to chili and a significant number of chili tasters agreed. The put a nice little dent in our inventory and we loved being able to make new fans of our friends' most excellent sauce.  It was a pleasure to watch people just take a cautious taste of sauce on a chip and then instantly reach for their wallets. 

When it was all said and done we had shared a great day with friends, met tons of new people, and enjoyed a full day of amazing weather basking in the sun.  Before we had even made it home we were already talking about how to fine tune our approach to next year's S.C. Chili Cook-Off... and next time we are going to win, dammit. We hope to see you there!

* If you doubt this theory, ask yourself why Applebee's is always crowded and Justin Beiber is a millionaire. Enough said.

[FINAL NOTE: We would not have been able to participate in this event without the help and support of our friends.  BIG thanks to Becky and Trevi for sending us their kickass hot sauce, Joe at Summa Joe's for lending us a chafing dish to keep Chris's chili hot and awesome, Ed at Community Tap for his beer recommendations for the chili recipe, Jason and Barbara for lending us a giant pop-up tent to keep us cool, and to all of our friends that took time out of their Saturday to come to Belton and support us. You guys are awesome.]