The Rotary Club of Santa Clarita Valley hosted this year’s 11th annual Chili Cookoff on Friday evening at the SCV Senior Center. The competition had 20 local competitors hoping to win first place for best chili recipe and proceeds raised would go toward supporting local nonprofits.
Outside the SCV Senior Center patio’s perimeter stood dozens of tables with different themed decorations. Behind the tables were local contestants handing off small cups of a red substance that was made of different spices and ingredients, creating a pleasant aroma that was hard to miss throughout the venue. The 11th annual chili cookoff had begun and attendees were ready to set their tastebuds to the test to select which special recipe would be crowned the winner.
The annual chili cookoff was first introduced by Nicole Stinson and Steve Potrero in 2012 but for the first time in a decade, they passed on their responsibilities as the host to the Rotary Club of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Although the famous annual event had new hosts, the goal remained the same: Crowning the best chili of the competition and supporting local nonprofits.
Chili chefs competing had the chance to win a title in different categories and individuals in attendance could also cast their vote for a “People’s Choice Award.”
SCV Rotary President- Elect Scott Hoolahan and past president Steve Corn both served as co-chairs for this year’s event. Hoolahan mentioned that they both have been winners for their chili recipe in previous years, so they were well “experienced” to take on the role.
The organization selected this year to be the recipient of half of the proceeds was the SCV Senior Center and the other half would be donated to other local nonprofits by Rotary, according to Hoolahan.
“We’re going to take all the proceeds from this event and split it with the center. So the center will receive 50% of the proceeds and the other 50% will go to the Newhall Rotary Foundation, which is the custodian of the rotary’s endowment that we invest and we work off to give back the community,” said Hoolahan.
Some organizations they support are the College of the Canyons Foundation, the SCV Sheriff’s Foundation, and Single Mothers Outreach, said Hoolahan.
Iconic photos of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordan going head-to-head during a basketball game, and historical moments from the 2020 Dodgers World Series were up for auction along with other memorabilia to support the fundraiser.
First place winner for both the judge’s choice and people’s choice was first-time competitor chef Geovanni Euceda.
“A lot of love was put into it, food is very unique and when you put a lot of passion and love into it you get creative,” said Euceda.
Euceda was excited about the experience and said it took him two weeks to perfect the recipe that became the ultimate favorite for guest judges and attendees.
He initially went to connect with the Santa Clarita community and support a good cause but overall had a great experience, creating new relationships and now looks forward to participating next year, he said.
Winners of this year’s chili cook-off are as follows:
1st Place: Chef Geovanni Euceda
2nd Place: Daryl White
3rd Place: Kimberley Blackburn
People’s Choice Awards
1st Place: Chef Geovanni Euceda
2nd Place: Rayshun Parkman
3rd place: Sonja Randall