We had been looking for an opportunity to hang out with twitter chum and fellow Hell’s Kitchen fan Kim, but we had somehow missed each other until the very end of the last Triangle foodie tweetup. Luckily for us, she heard about a chili contest coming to Holly Springs that was to be judged by Hell’s Kitchen contestent Andrew Forster, who decided it was a great idea to walk away in the midst of a heated episode of the show. Needless to say, we were excited by the prospect of chili and Hell’s Kitchen craziness, as well as finally getting a chance to hang out with our Kim.
Holly Springs is a great little town that is SW of Raleigh and hosts its own farmers market every Saturday morning in the downtown area. This particular Saturday was no normal weekend farmers market in Holly Springs, for today the farmers market would be graced with the presence of a reality tv star. As we walked toward the food tents, my stomach was already growling with the anticipation of a day of chili tasting.
Chili cookoffs will forever remind of the episode of the Simpson in which Homer eats chili laced with “The Merciless Peppers of Quetzlzacatenango – Grown deep in the jungle primeval by the inmates of a Guatemalan insane asylum” and is taken on a hallucinogen induced spirit quest narrated by a coyote voiced by Johnny Cash. So let’s just say I am always hoping someone will end up making chili with ghost peppers or the like and I too will have to run down the street looking for something to put out the fire that has started on my tongue.
The entrants into the contest were composed of 8 amateur and 2 professional chili chefs which ended up causing the chili that we tasted to be fairly diverse in ingredients and flavors. Most notable for me (though my tummy disagreed) was the Habsecutioner, which had a lovely bite courtesy of a generous helping of Habanero peppers. In addition to Senor Habsecutioner, I also really enjoyed a well seasoned chili that had an amazing balance of spices as well as the added benefit of a full can of PBR used to make the sauce. A final chili that Julia and I both enjoyed was a far less traditional chili that involved turkey and white beans that was obviously a healthier alternative to the normally fatty everyday chili. Certainly it was a missing a bit of that chili Je ne sais quoi but it definitely was an interesting and light alternative that was really quite appealing. There were also a couple of chilis that fell short of their pepper laced breathren with one that was over seasoned to the point of being almost sandy and another that was much more reminiscent of ketchup than chili.
After we had tasted the chili, we had a chance to walk over and say hello to Mr. Andrew himself who was seated next to WRAL news anchor Gerald Owens (who is extremely tall btw). Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that Hell’s Kitchen is a particularly reputable show when it comes to culinary matters, as it is really much more about listening to Ramsay yell and watching how the chefs react. So yah, let’s just say that Andrew wasn’t that happy with his experience on the show and he had lots to say about it.
We had a great day of chili eating and reality tv star craziness, and we are looking forward to the possibility of more of the same at next years Holly Springs Chili cookoff.