PINETOP-LAKESIDE — It was like a big family reunion at Mountain Meadows Recreation Center on Saturday, May 8, for the 2021 White Mountain Chili Cook-Off. With two seatings of 150 people each, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., in spite of the blustery winds, people were only blown away by the taste of the chili and the cobbler entries.

Though the event was free, it was essentially a sell out in that there were no more reservations available on Thursday evening when Community Services Manger Tony Alba addressed the town council. If someone cancelled, they were asked to notify the town so they could post availability for someone else to get that ticket. The cancelled reservation was then posted on the website where someone could capture that ticket.

In order to keep the event COVID-19-safe, walk ups were not allow so the town could manage the count. Participants were also required to wear masks until they were seated at their table.

In addition to the chili and cobbler teams, the event featured food vendors, a beer garden and wine tasting, a chainsaw carving demonstration by Trent Penrod of Burly Bear and live music by Blue Tattoo.

Eight chili teams competed along with two cobbler teams and the public voted for the winners.

The winners for best chili were: First place – Pinetop Lakes Country Club which included team members Greg Hathaway, Dorothy Doctor and John Kensho; Second place – Don’s ‘Hot Damn’ Chili by Don Coleman and Third Place, Hot Cookin’ Mamas whose team consisted of Ann Alba and Jacqueline Chevalier.

Best cobbler went to Pinetop Lakes Country Club and Best Decorations went to Wine Mountains.

Penrod carved two chef bears for winners’ trophies. The first was presented to Pinetop Lakes Country Club and the second, because there was no bear last year, went to Vincenzo D’Angona of The Crockery Cafe and Infusery who was the 2020 winner. Now, both can boast they are top chef bears.

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Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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