TUSTIN, Calif. — Steve Crawford won first place and $1,000 cash at the 31st Annual Tustin Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off. His Crainkin’ Chili also earned him a spot in the regional competition for the International Chili Society (ICS).
“I really enjoy Smoqued BBQ, it’s the restaurant winner from last year,” said Kristina Kolonics, an attendee from Tustin. “This one’s got chunks of pork in it and a little bit greasy, which adds another flavor to it. I think the pork and chili was second best. It had chunks of pineapple in it. It added another element to it that was good, a little sweet.”
An estimated crowd of about 40,000 showed up for the event, which is known as the world’s largest single-day chili cook-off in the world, according to the ICS. Temperatures peaked at 90 degrees at one point during the festival.
“We use 12-hour, in-house cooked brisket and we also don’t use any beans because that’s not chili,” said Zach Deckert, pitmaster at Smoqued BBW. “We’re happy to be back doing it again this year. I think it’s the consistency of service and the great flavors that we put into our chili that keeps people coming back. It’s a big staple for our restaurant.”
Nut House Chili won the People’s Choice Award in the non-restaurant category. Meanwhile, Black Marlin won the People’s Choice Award in the restaurant category.
“I like all chili, the Tustin Hyundai is pretty good,” said Kevin Raff, an attendee from Tustin. “It reminds me of Tommy Burgers chili that they put on chili dogs.
His friend, Roxy Kahler added: “The Blue Ribbon chili is my favorite. I’m more here for the beer. Just kidding. The beans were really good. They’re not soggy so that’s good. It’s a great time. You get to hang out with a lot of people. It’s a big street fair for friends and family to enjoy chili and beer and get together in small town Tustin.”
Additional winners include Burnt for Tustin’s Top Chili, and On the Road Chili for ICS Red Salsa Award. Pork in the Hole and Jamacian Me Jerk Chicken both tied for the Most Spirited Booth Award.
“This oar makes our chili the best, if it’s stirred properly, you have the best chili,” said Bill Calderon from the Red Hill Lutheran Church. “We have 100 pounds of ground sirloin in this chili. We have 196 adobe chilies. Other than that, I can’t tell you anymore.”
Second round judge Erin Nielsen described what she was looking for: “Spicy, but not an overwhelming spice taste, good thick consistency and just an overall pleasant chili experience. So far, we like the Red Hill Lutheran Church chili. It was spicy, had a bite to it, a good thickness, that’s our favorite so far.”
Several eating contests were held at the Tustin Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off. Aldo Lorenzana won the Jalapeno eating contest. Liliana Llantada was victorious in the Watermelon Eating Contest for the children’s group while Kevin McGlothan won in the adult division.
“I really like the Blue Ribbon chili,” said Michael Porter of Tustin. “It’s just meaty and spicy, it’s really good. I would say the Tustin Police Department’s was second best.”
Joseph Alvarado won the Men’s Beer Stein Holding Contest while Linda Krall won in the women’s competition.
“I’m looking for a good flavor and consistency,” said Alex Vasilakis, another second round judge. “Not something too runny or thick. Good spices, not too hot, but enough. I haven’t tried them all so I can’t say which is my favorite yet.”
Car show winners included Thomas Raber for Best in Show and Kevin Aikins for the Santa Bob Thompson Memorial Award.
“The Burntzilla chili is pretty good this year,” said attendee Sara Rodriguez. “I thought the meat was really big chunks of meat and it had crunchy noodles, chives. You could get sour cream so it had a lot of variation. Tustin Police was second best. It’s very homestyle, friendly and creamy.”
For more information about the Tustin Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off, visit www.tustinchilicookoff.com.