It was a humdinger of an night as South Pasadenans gathered at the War Memorial Building celebrate South Pasadena Rotary’s 80th anniversary and eat some fantastic, homemade chili! The giant chili cookoff was a great success as celebrity judges Mayor Michael Cacciotti, Police Chief Art Miller and Fire Chief Paul Riddle were tasked with judging over 22 chilis and grading them on things like bouquet, consistency, appearance…and taste counted for double points. It was a daunting task and Chief Riddle said he was glad it was not only blind tasting but also that it was all based on points. Otherwise I do believe the men would have come to blows. Just kidding. There was a good amount of ribbing going on between the judges and former Police Chief Dan Watson.
But at the end of the day, only one chili maker gets bragging rights for the year along with the coveted Chili Bowl Trophy and this year that high honor went to David Simmons for his savory “Shanks A Lot” chili! Second place was awarded to Dr. David Chen who brought his “Ruben’s Radical Chili” to the competition. And third place went to Dr. Ray Kwok’s “Dr. Crock Pot Chili”. It certainly is high praise given that all the chilis were indeed wonderful, including some vegetarian recipes, white bean recipes, chicken chili and some fire engine red, hot chilis.
Music was provided by the lovely bass and vocals of Leslie Baker and guitarist Riner Scivally. All kinds of wonderful prizes were raffled off throughout the night with one of the most popular items being “lunch with the Chief” which is lunch with Art Miller at the restaurant of his choosing which was won by Kathy Watson. Another popular item was dinner for 30 provided by Charlie’s Trio, which set off a bidding war. A custom made dog house was auctioned off which was made to look like the house the Rotary plans to build in Tecate, Mexico with funds raised. Dan Watson described the incredible experience it is to work with their partners in Mexico to build this home from the ground up and hand a family the keys. Funds from this event and others will pay for the home as well as 25 new trees to be planted in South Pasadena.
Helping out at the cookout were the Rotary Interacters, which, as Rotary President Camille Levee explains, stands for “International Action”, a teen program of Rotary at the high school level. They learn leadership skills, participate in local service projects and raise money for International service projects. Levee tells us, “the local rotary club provides sponsorship and mentorship for this program. They meet twice a month at the high school and they are eligible for special competitive scholarships through Rotary International.” For more information https://www.rotary.org/en/get-involved/interact-clubs
Reflecting on the Chili Cookoff the next day, Levee, who won the cookoff in 2005, said “turnout was great and of course we all had fun!”