Reigning chili champion Willie Tellez held on to his title, bringing home a first-place win for a the second year in a row at the Western Roundup and Chili Cook-Off held Saturday night.
The evening’s festivities kicked off at 6 p.m. at with music by Heart of Gold, and plenty of time for everyone to enter the raffle, bid on silent auction items and sample a variety of chili styles.
Tellez’s “Plumb Good Chili” (he owns Pro Drain and Plumbing Service) faced fiery competition from eight other contenders, including previous winners. Second place went to Sharon Jones, owner of the , for her aptly named “Award Winning Chili” served with an array of tasty toppers. Both Tellez and Jones offered traditional bean and beef chilies the crowd seemed to favor.
Jim Froelicher, a longtime cook-off competitor, nabbed the third-place spot with something different—a pork chili verde with roasted New Mexico chilies.
A possible showdown between local heroes—the and the —was not to be, however. The matchup was scratched when firefighters rolled out on a call just before the cook-off was to begin. It was hoped they would be able to make the contest before voting closed at 7:30 p.m., but the crowd ultimately didn’t get a chance to try their “10 House Chili.”
Sheriff’s deputies showed up in force to support Jim Wieboldt, a crime prevention specialist with the department, whose “The Posse's Smokin’ Double Barrel Chili” featured smoked sausages and just the right amount of heat. (By the way, Wieboldt is the guest speaker at Monday's meeting of the , where he’ll be talking about .)
Amber Eck and the law firm of Zeldes and Haeggquist Law cooked up “Chili So Good It Should Be Illegal”; John Mendoza gave us a “Mean Bean Chili”; Rita Gibbons Sterling and Pat Origlieri entered with “Rio Rita’s 1-Shot Chili”—willing patrons also got a water-gun shot of tequila on the side; Tony Villaman from the Knights of Columbus served up “Knight’s Delight”; and Lou Melenzez was the sole vegetarian contender with his meatless “East Meets West” chili with tofu.
Hot dogs, potato salad and chips filled any nooks and crannies that the chili didn't.
Dressed in their finest Western wear, members of Soroptimist International of Lemon Grove circulated throughout the crowd selling raffle tickets. Prizes included museum, sports and theater tickets, a fishing trip, cook’s packages and portraits. Silent auction items featured wine tasting, restaurant gift certificates, a pool party, tickets to the Mainly Mozart Festival and sports memorabilia.
Proceeds from the annual event benefit the , which provides food and gifts for local families in need each year.