It’s Chili Cook-Off Time!

 It’s Chili Cook-Off Time!

BY FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ

Cocina and Bar by Cabo Bakery is holding its 6th Annual Chili Cook-Off on Sunday, February 18, between 4-8 PM. The cost for the event will be $60 USD ($1,300 MXN pesos) and tickets can be purchased online via PayPal at RobZolezzi@gmail.com. 

Each ticket includes sampling 12-15 outstanding and tasty chili’s, whereupon every attendee vote will decide the winner. Also included with every ticket will be a chili, soft drink, hot dogs, appetizers, bottled water, drink specials, and free parking. 

The live entertainment will feature the local singing talent of Angie Vertti alongside the Ajinomoto Band who perform a great variety of classic rock, blues, and popular music from the 60s through the 90s. Songs by Fleetwood Mac, Santana, Tears for Fears, Stevie Nicks, and so much more.

The First Annual Chili Cook-Off, created by Rob Zolezzi, was held in 2015. The 2nd Annual Chili Cook-Off, held at Blue Thai Cabo, had 20 chili Chefs who competed for the title of Los Cabos Chili Cook-Off Champion. Entry wristbands were only available to a limited 200 people. Beers were available for only a dollar and there were 2-for-1 vodka drinks, which all benefitted Heart4 Cabo who feed the less privileged and Lugar de Cambio, “Place of Change;” a men’s rehabilitation center located on Leona Vicario in the Lagunitas neighborhood colonia. 

Last year’s 5th Annual Chili Cook-Off was a huge success, in which 18 chefs entered the competition with Bad Behavior from Roadhouse Latitude 22 claiming first place. Carla Fincher and Barbara Walker claimed second place. In 3rd place was Hillbilly Chili by Dino and Diana Alcini. The sold-out crowd of 220 guests ate, drank and danced the festivities away listening to this year’s music attraction, Angie Vertti and her band. P.E.T. (early sterilization program for pets) received $440,000 pesos ($24,300 USD). 

“What a great event. Thanks to host Markus Saffert, for another great evening,” said Laurie Saunders, a local retired ex-pat. “So happy for Aida and Ev and their team at PET,” added Heather Walker, a Cabo San Lucas realtor and broker at Harcourtsbaja. 

”It really was so much fun!!,” said the event’s musician, and singer, Angie Vertti. “So much fun. Everybody coming together to support PET Los Cabos,” noted Elizabeth Brownel, a Cabo personal trainer and nutrition coach at Pickleball Liz. 

The first cooking contest to get wide attention and publicity was the Pillsbury Bake-Off, which was started in 1949 and was known as the “Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest.” 

It was held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City and had a top prize of $50,000 dollars. 

The first modern-day chili cook-off was held in October 1952, at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. The 1952 cook-off was the brainchild of Joe E. Cooper as a way to advertise his new book With or Without Beans. The contest was a success with 55 contestants trying for the first prize. Mrs. F.G. Ventura of Dallas was crowned the winner. Cooper died a couple of months later and never saw his book become a best seller. ”With or Without Beans” is now considered the authority on chili history and fame. It is the book all chili authors refer to.

The recipe for the first winning bowl of chili is amazingly simple. The second-place winner at the 1952 affair was Mr. Julian Capers, Jr. Mr. Capers’ recipe was a bit more complicated, but still simple by today’s competition chili standards. In January 2020, Roadhouse Latitude 22 held its first chili cook-off, where everyone was invited to enter with their chili and offered a cash prize for the winner. Kevin Daniels and his Dos Huevos band were the highlight of the festivities.

This year’s 6th Annual sold-out version is destined to be the best one yet. And all for a good cause. PET Los Cabos is an animal rescue located in Cabo San Lucas, whose primary goal is to help solve the pet population problem by providing low-cost and free spay/neuters, temporarily house dogs, and helping them find their forever homes.

The founders of PET Los Cabos, Aida Trujillo and Evaristo Castro, have spent decades volunteering and working in animal welfare. Over the years, the most important lesson they learned was that there will never be enough permanent homes for all the animals that are born so they decided to work on the root of the problem by addressing the need to educate their community regarding the responsibility of owning a pet. 

Through their education and spay/neuter programs, they have prevented the needless suffering of dogs and cats that would otherwise end up on the streets spreading disease through no fault of their own. Their goal has been to perform 100 surgeries per month, at a cost of $25.00 USD. 

“Some of the past winners include Salvatore’s Restaurant, Road House, and several individuals who entered their homemade chili’s,” said founder and event director, Rob Zolezzi. 

“We have sold out every year. All funds raised through ticket sales, raffle tickets and donations go 100% to the non-profit organization we select.”

In the past one of those organizations has been Building Baja’s Future; which helps the poorest students pay for college, so they can become successful citizens, who in turn, will give back to their community.