Cup after cup of steamy, hot chili—spicy, chunky, meaty, and full of beans—was spooned up, but only one would emerge as the best.
After sampling the tasty dishes prepared by 10 chili chefs, a panel of four judges declared the evening's winner to be Sharon Jones, owner of the Grove Grinder—a favorite spot locally for a big bowl of chili.
The crowd's vote determined the People's Choice Award, which went to the Lemon Grove Fire Department and their hot, hot, hot concoction.
Homemade chilis were entered into the eight annual Western Round Up and Chili Cook-Off by the American Legion, City Council candidate Mark Gracyk, Jim Froelicher, Mike Imes of Downtown Detailing, John Mendoza, John Mendoza Jr., Mayor Mary Sessom, Sharon Jones, the LGFD, and the Lemon Grove HEAL Zone.
The HEAL Zone took second place, and John Mendoza Jr. garnered third.
The judging panel featured Superintendent Ernie Anastos, school board president Blanca Brown, City Attorney Jim Lough, and City Manager Graham Mitchell, whose daughter, Emerson, helped out with the taste testing.
The cook-off, sponsored by Soroptimist International of Lemon Grove, raised about $8,000, according to event chair Jennifer Mendoza, and benefit the Lemon Grove Holiday Food & Toy Drive, the Lemon Grove Food Bank and programs to improve the lives of girls and women.