Orange County’s International Chili Society Convenes Cook-Off Close to Home

The world of competition chili has always been a mystery to me, and not a little intimidating—chiliheads have that strict admonition against beans, for instance. Out here in the land of casual chili consumption, we don’t mind a few beans, but the standards of the International Chili Society clearly state that competition chili includes only meat, spices, and vegetables.

This is all getting way less mysterious, however. I’m happy to report that after passing its authorized training, the society has conferred upon me Certified Chili Judge status. Saturday, I’ll be putting my skillz to the test at the California state contest, part of the Sizzlin’ Summer Chili Fest & Car Show at Irvine Lake. There’ll be live entertainment during the 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. classic-car event, including an Elvis tribute, and chili for plain eatin’ will be sold from noon to 4 p.m., or until it’s gone.

Based in San Juan Capistrano, the International Chili Society is a non-profit organization supporting transplant patients, founded by the late Carroll Shelby—who in addition to being an automotive titan was also a famous chilihead. I’ll have a great chili recipe in Taste of Orange County soon, from ICS leader Carol Hancock of Coto de Caza, a former chili world champion.

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