Professional and amateur chefs are busy stirring up pots of every variety of chili you can think of this week in preparation for the sixth Chilly, Blues and Brews East competition. The annual competition takes place at The B.O.B. on Saturday afternoon and includes over 50 teams – which means attendees get to taste test over 50 entries.
The competition’s first place winner will take home $1000 in prizes and the 2018 Golden Ladle Trophy. Teams can also win various categories such as Best Vegetarian/Vegan Chili, Spiciest Chili, and Best Dressed Team. A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit skin cancer research via MSU Gran Fondo.
Chef Mick Rickard, executive chef for The B.O.B. and Gilmore Catering, is busy preparing for the Saturday event as well. Rickard is serving as head administer for the event. He shared some tips for chili cooks as well as how to stay “cool” under pressure during the event’s hot pepper eating contest.
GR|MAG: Hi Mick. What can you tell me about The B.O.B’s chili cook-off this upcoming weekend? What type of chili will be available at the competition?
MR: There will be chili in each category, beef and red meat, poultry and a vegetarian chili.
GR|MAG: I read that all of the entries have to use craft beer as an ingredient? Which craft beer do you use when you make chili and what types of beer work best as a chili ingredient?
MR: Yes, each chili must be made with a Michigan craft beer. I use The B.O.B’s Crimson King Amber in my chili. I recommend stouts, porters and ambers for chili. Basically, you would want to avoid beers with a lot of hops because they make the chili bitter as you cook with it.
GR|MAG: Do you know what qualities the judges will be evaluating the different entries on?
MR: Judges will be locked in a room and have a double-blind tasting so they don’t know whose is whose. They will be judging each chili on these weighted categories: uniqueness, overall taste, beer detectability, texture, spice, consistency and aroma.
GR|MAG: What do you personally think makes a good chili?
MR: Balance makes the best chili. The right amount of heat with a good hearty texture, and the aroma.
GR|MAG: Do you have any tips for amateur chefs on how they can improve their chili?
MR: Use simple, good ingredients, Even the most experienced chili chef can get carried away on over complicating it.
GR|MAG: There is also going to be a hot pepper eating contest during the event. What is the hottest pepper out there?
MR: We have some of the hottest in the world on standby for those that make it past the Habanero. We will have Ghost Chilis and the Trinidad Scorpion, and, if needed, a few of the feared Carolina Reapers on hand.
GR|MAG: Do you have any tips for contestants of the pepper-eating contest to help keep them “cool” under pressure?
MR: Remember you can always tap out. These peppers are no joke. It is really a mind over matter and how much your body can take.
GR|MAG: Are there any ingredients or unique chili recipes out there that might be fun for someone to try that are less conventional?
MR: Some people add coffee, cocoa powder, milk chocolate, grains; each one is fun in its own way. We have seen people put in alligator, farm-raised pheasant, ghost chili, molasses, just to name a few. With so many people cooking for the title prize some people want to stand out with a unique ingredient.
GR|MAG: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
MR: This is a really fun way to spend a Saturday. What’s not to love? Fifty-five chilis, live blues music and a good cause.
Chilly, Blues & Brews East Schedule:
1 p.m. – Chili tasting (open to the public)
3 p.m. – Hot chili pepper eating contest (18 years and older)
Noon – 2 a.m. – Live music at H.O.M.E., B.O.B.’s Brewery, Bobarino’s, and Eve