Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sweet Smell of Victory, er, Chili

Skylark Chili
Fleming Island Marina likes to hold fun events for the gang here from time to time. So today, it was a throw down, a throw down of the chili kind. That's right it, was a chili cook-off and there was a prize on the line, a $50 gift certificate to where else, Chili's. Of course I couldn't just sit back and not make a batch, so I made my way to Walmart for chili makin' supplies. I didn't have a recipe in mind, I just went with some stuff that made sense and tried to recall the days of going to chili cook-offs with my friend Dave and his father back in high school. $49 dollars later, I was good to go.

It was a hot day to cook
The judging started at 3:00 and it was 11:30, so I had my work cut out for me. I  had the galley going at full strength while trying hard not to pass out from the heat. Yesterday here in Jacksonville, it was 86 degrees. It has been an incredible winter here if you want to call it that. Anyway, with the temps the way they were and 3 burners on the stove going, it got hot...about 95 degrees if you can believe it. But there was a prize on the line along with the coveted title of FIM Chili Master. (actually I just made that up)  By 1:00, all the chopping, mixing, sauteing and can opening was done and a full pot of Skylark chili was simmering. It was time for a beverage, one of the ingredients of the chili actually, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Good stuff. Please note the pic of the galley is a bit blurry due to the fact I was half conscience from heat stroke at that point. :)

Entries ready for the judges
Entries ready for the judges
At 2:30, 7 entries were brought up to the pavilion and made ready for presentation to the 3 judges. Besides the normal crew here at the marina, there was also the North Florida Cursing Club on hand as they had a race earlier that morning and use the marina for a meeting point. With a full keg of Yeungling on hand provided by John, the owner of the marina, we were ready to go. The judging was to be blind, so I received my number, 4, and prepared to hand in my three bowls to the folks who would bring them to the judges. (We are so professional). When all of the entries were presented to the judges, the flood gates were opened and about 50 folks hit the pots of chili hard. There was also corn bread, veggie platters, chips & dip and a huge desert platter. We were doing well.

Folks having fun at the pavilion

About 30 minutes later, we were called to attention by John as it was time for the results. Let me say before I go any further that every single entry was incredible. They really were, and everyone enjoyed them. I certainly had my favorites and knew there was some serious competition.

The head judge started with 3rd place, which was my favorite. This entry was submitted by the folks on s/v Baby Bluz and had some real nice ingredients that I had not had in chili before.
2nd place was won by Luareen and her family. She works here at the marina in the office. Her chili too was excellent.

Well, by now I am sure you figured out where this is going. When the winning number was called, I had no inkling that it would be number 4. It was funny actually, when the judge called number 4, there was silence for a few seconds before it sunk in that I had won. At that point, I raised my hand and yelled Yeahhhhhh.... freaking everyone out. It was kinda funny and had everyone laughing. My buddies here still can't believe it and one who had entered insists I cheated somehow. :) All in all it was a great day and a lot of fun. But the best part of it all, the gift certificate to Chili's! The only down side, there wasn't a spoonful of chili left and unfortunately, Skylark was one of a kind.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!


  1. Congratulations! Next time you come up, you do all the cooking!

  2. Congratulations Jimmy!
    I din't know you were such a good cook.
    Aunt Elsie

  3. Congratulations....send us your recipe. Will use it the next time we have a chili cook-off at church.
    Love, Aunt Barbara & Uncle Paul

  4. Gram and I enjoyed your cook off story. Always knew you had it in you having enjoyed previous meals.
    gRAM & GRAMP


  5. A bowl of that sure sounds good as I read this up here on business in Charlotte, NC. They are calling for the temperature to drop to 26 deg tonight.