Chili cookoff poster

PINETOP-LAKESIDE — What better on a brisk February day than to eat some good chili with cornbread and cobbler to warm the body?

That is one of the perks people attending the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside White Mountains Chili Cook-Off will get. The event will be held Saturday, Feb. 8, at the White Mountain Nature Center located at at 425 S. Woodland Road.

There will be free food tasting along with a beer garden (alas, not free), wine tasting, and live music provided by the well known local band Blue Tattoo.

And it is not just chili people will get to taste. There will also be categories in the competition like cornbread, cobbler and of course, salsa, to tickle the taste buds.

As for the chili however, Pinetop-Lakeisde Community Services Manager Tony Alba said there are some specific rules to level the playing field.

“There are two different categories of chili, although all teams will compete together in an open competition. Homestyle chili must include beans of some sort and traditional chili must not include beans or pasta of any kind. For chili, all cooking, prep, measure, etc. must be done on site. No advance work is allowed, with the exception of beans, which can be cooked in advance since they take a few hours to prepare,” he said.

Twelve teams have now filled all of the entry slots to cook up their original recipes for traditional chili or homestyle chili.

Want to sign up to enter your salsa, cornbread or cobbler? There’s still time, but you’ve gotta hurry.

“We will accept entries in the salsa, cornbread and cobbler categories until 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31. Rules and an entry form are available by emailing me at talba@pinetoplakesideaz.gov or people can enter in person at Town Hall. Entry fee is $25 per category. As of now, we also have 6 salsa teams and 3 each in cornbread and cobbler,” Alba said.

The smells of world class chili will start filling the air at 2 p.m., at which time the beer garden opens and Blue Tattoo starts belting out favorite tunes for the crowds of people who always show up for chili cook-offs here in the White Mountains.

Food tasting and judging begins at 4:30 p.m. with the awards for the best chili, cornbread, cobbler and salsa recipes taking place at 5:30 p.m. Food will be served until 6 p.m. or until it all runs out.

So where are these teams from?

“Most of the teams are from the White Mountains area. We also have teams from Nutrioso and two from the Phoenix area. Two teams have a competitive chili cooking background in Texas. And, we have three teams representing restaurants: Moose Henri’s and Crockery Café from this area and Mogollon Canning Company from Mesa. Other teams of note include Summit Healthcare, Walking Down Ranch and the Pinetop-Lakeside Chamber of Commerce,” Alba said.

And what will the winning competitors in all categories get?

“For chili, there are cash prizes for the top 4 teams: first place — $150, second Place — $100, third place — $75 and fourth place — $50. The top teams also will get an engraved cutting board with the event name, year and place. For salsa, cornbread and cobbler, the first place team wins $50 and a cutting board. The most creatively decorating cooking area will win an engraved wooden cooking spoon.

See contest rules here:

Reach the reporter at

mleiby@wmicentral.com

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