Local Cooks Invited to Compete in Orland Park's Chilly Willie Chili Challenge

Local Cooks Invited to Compete in Orland Park's Chilly Willie Chili Challenge
Posted on 01/15/2015

The Village of Orland Park invites area residents --- including restaurant chefs --- to compete in its annual Chilly Willie Chili Challenge.

The regional competition will be held Saturday, January 24, 2015 at the Orland Park Civic Center, 14750 South Ravinia Avenue, one block west of LaGrange Road/U.S. Route 45.

Orland Park’s competition is sanctioned by the International Chili Society (ICS) and the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI).

“The village’s Chili Challenge is a winter favorite,” said Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin. “We have people from all over the country come to Orland Park to compete and area residents also compete, vote for their favorite chilies and serve as judges,” the mayor said.

The International Chili Society added its homestyle category in 2013, enabling local cooks to enter their chilies for competition. The 2015 homestyle winner will receive $100 and an award. The 2013 winner went on to take fourth place in the World Championship Chili Cook-off.

Orland Park’s contest requires that all chili be cooked from scratch on site the day of the cook-off. Beans, macaroni, hominy, rice or other similar ingredients are not permitted --- except in the homestyle category. Everything is allowed in homestyle chilies, including beans.

Each contestant must cook a minimum of two quarts of competition chili, plus an additional gallon for the People’s Choice Award/Public Tasting. Judging is based on aroma, consistency, color, taste and after taste. Awards will be presented to the top winners in each category.

“Chili is an art form at Orland Park’s competition,” said Trustee Pat Gira, chair of the village’s Recreation and Parks Committee. “Orland Park is thrilled to host this annual contest, which is a great afternoon out in the middle of winter for so many people,” she added.

Other ISC and CASI categories include ICS traditional red, salsa and verde as well as CASI traditional red chili. Cooks must be active ICS members to compete in an ICS competition.

The winner of the ICS competition will qualify to compete in the World’s Championship Chili Cook-off. The CASI top ten winners receive points to add to their totals that qualify cooks for national competition in Palm Springs, California.

“Every year, we hear about the many great chili cooks in Orland Park,” McLaughlin said. “It’s nice that the ICS has opened its competition, enabling local residents to compete with their homestyle recipes,” the mayor said.

Approximately 30 more volunteer judges are needed for Orland Park’s Chili Challenge. Judging slots, about an hour each, are available between 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Adults age 18 and older who want to judge should call the village’s Recreation Department at 708/403-7275 or send an email to recreation@orlandpark.org.

Public tasting will be held from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. or until the chili runs out --- whichever comes first. Bottomless tasting cups may be purchased for $5 each. Proceeds benefit the Village of Orland Park Special Recreation Program.

Registration and details are available by calling the Recreation Department at 708/403-7275 or visiting www.orlandpark.org.