The rules of the game


I can’t begin to explain how disappointing it is to open the “Letters” page and see the Malibu Kiwanis Chili Cook-Off that I have been associated with for 23 years attacked by someone who apparently made no effort to discuss his complaints with me or anyone else at the Kiwanis Club of Malibu.

Mr. Balfour’s initial disappointment was that he arrived last year at 4 p.m. and was unable to sample any of the competitors’ chilies. He attempted to remedy that this year by arriving as soon as we opened the gates to “make a lunch of the various chilies.” He complains that none of the cooks had green chili as was advertised and that the contestants have to pay $1,500 to have their chili judged and have little interest in offering chili to the public.

Mr. Balfour attended a state level qualification “Chili Cook-off.” The International Chili Society contestants pay $35, not $1,500, to enter each sanctioned class. They are competing for $1,500 and a berth at the International World Championship where the prize is $25,000.

ICS-sanctioned competitors begin at noon by cutting up raw ingredients. They are not allowed to light their burners until 1 p.m. and must turn in one quart of the finished delicacy at 4 p.m. for judging. Since they can be disqualified for turning in less than the required amount, chefs will not give you a sample of the unfinished concoction prior to that time. After the required quart safely arrives in the judging area, contestants typically give samples to each other and those who visit their booths.

Some of the entrants have begun competing in a new class, Chili Verde, which, unfortunately for Mr. Balfour, is not as popular as the traditional “Bowl of Red.” We regret that he did not talk to enough entrants to locate any this year.

Our Cook-Off is also fortunate to also have a division entitled “Malibu’s Favorite Chili,” which is supported by local groups of friends, restaurants and others. These public-spirited souls pay a small entry fee, build a booth and bring gallons and gallons of pre-made chili to the event at their own expense. Tastes of these chilies are sold in a competition to win the most votes and raise the most money for charity. This chili is available as soon as you enter the gate. Perhaps this was the chili that was gone by 4 p.m. last year. Our records indicate that 6,704 of these tastes were sold during the event this year.

As to Mr. Balfour’s car ticket frustration, I remain flummoxed. We have always printed 1,500 tickets and the ticket application has always specified our right to sell that many. During the history of the club, we have sold as few as 870, but we have never exceeded 1,300 in a given year. If Mr. Balfour can identify the year, and the name under which he purchased his ticket, I’d be glad to tell him how many tickets were sold that year.

Paul Grisanti, past president

Kiwanis Club of Malibu