VFW Post 6885 holds annual Chili Cook-Off competition

Gary Bright Jr. stirs his pot of "Mean Cuisine" chili during the 2019 VFW Chili Cook-Off held at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6885 in Canyon Country on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal.

Whether a fan of classic, verde or spicy chili, event ticket holders had their choice of entree during the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6885 Chili Cook-Off on Saturday.

Held on the VFW Post’s grounds, the event was attended by over 100 members, families and visitors, with 13 competitors hoping to score favor with the five judge tribunal.

Event organizer Gary Bright Sr., center, gives instructions to judges Kevin Carrafiello, left, and Jennifer Lumus during the 2019 VFW Chili Cook-Off held at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6885 in Canyon Country on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

“Chances are I’m going to know everyone in there but I can’t play favorites though,” said Jesse James, one of the judges for the cook-off. “You just got to go in there and if you taste it, and whichever one has the most zing, that’s the one I’m going to pick.”

“I don’t really know what the five categories on our check-off list is yet, but I’m looking for texture and flavor,” said Jennifer Ramos, a first-time judge, minutes before she was called out to the tasting. She joked, “I’ve even had some of the people competing come up and tell me they’d buy me a beer if I helped them out.”

In addition to there being the rivalry between the veterans-turned-chefs – with smack talk and past defeats going back for over a decade between them – there’s also a rivalry between family members.

Contestants Todd Town, left, and Sky Corder stir their chili in preparation for the judging of 13 varieties of chili during the 2019 VFW Chili Cook off held at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6885 in Canyon Country on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

“Typically I make a green pork chili, with pork, bacon, pork sausage, corn and a few other things in it,” said Gary Bright Sr., the VFW post manager and event organizer. “And that’s the chili that usually wins.”

“Lies,” said Gary Bright Jr., in defense of his own tri-tip, pork-sausage and hamburger meat. “A few years ago, he took first year, but we went down the road to the Moose Lodge, and I took first place and he didn’t place.”

“We have four chilis competing from our family,” said Lisa Bright, Gary Bright Sr.’s wife.

Darlene Price, one of five judges, takes a bite of one of the 13 varieties of chili to be judges at the 2019 VFW Chili Cook- Off held at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6885 in Canyon Country on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

She added taking home the championship means bragging rights for the rest of the year.

She added taking home the championship means bragging rights for the rest of the year.

However, while some were there to watch their latest recipes gain the love and attention of the judges, others were there to support the VFW and enjoy their chilli alongside friends and family.

Contestant Dave Currie ladles his chili into a numbered cup to be judged at the 2019 VFW Chili Cook-Off held at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6885 in Canyon Country on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

“But there’s also a lot of people here that don’t eat well and they’re not well off,” said Roger Mcindoe, one of the competitors and 20-year-long patron of the VFW Post. “We’re all friends, and there’s no real money in it.”

But at the end of the day, none of the Bright family would take home the title, and competitor Todd Town would be handed the 1st place trophy.

The event, held every year, charges $5 a ticket. Drinks could be purchased inside in post’s canteen bar.

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