32nd Malibu Chili Cook-Off to heat up the Labor Day weekend

Malibu’s 32nd Annual Chili Cook-Off has local chefs firing up their grills and tweaking special family recipes for this weekend’s celebration of all things fiery and meaty. The Kiwanis-sponsored event, which is expected to net about $100,000 for local charities, will be heavy on the braised beef, but light on the vegetarian side of chili. 

“There will be no vegan chili,” longtime organizer and Kiwanis President John Paola declared. 

Paola has been running the Cook-Off for about 15 years now and has enjoyed seeing it grow each year. 

“We keep getting better,” he said. “There are more food vendors, more of the carnival and more great local entertainment. The Chili Cook-Off is by far the most popular civic event of the year.” 

And he aims to keep it that way. He said about a dozen entrants will be competing for the Best Chili prize—cash, trophies and bragging rights—and that the main stage will feature celebrated local performers. As in years past, a new car will be auctioned off (this year a Fiat 500-L), and the carnival will feature even more thrills for the nonvertigo challenged. 

This year the Kiwanis will donate profits to the Wounded Warrior Project, a program that helps wounded service men and women re-integrate back into civilian society. Paola himself is an army veteran of the Korean War. 


“We put our heart into helping the Wounded Warrior people and give whatever we can,” Paola said. 

In the past, calls for chili cooks have been met from all over California, but this year entries were open only to local chefs, Paola said. Similarly, the entertainment presented on the main stage will feature local talent. 

Musical Director Beverly Craveiro said she was expanding the rock-and-roll emphasis to include more diverse acts this year. Accordingly, you can expect to see hula performances by The Ladies of Paradise Cove, the Young Singers (a children’s vocal group) and the Roman Helmets, Malibu’s own “dynamic Big Band” with Shen Shulz. 

Audiences will also be treated to the rare appearance of Malibu’s legendary Dick Van Dyke performing with his wife, Arlene Silver, in a special tribute to Van Dyke’s fellow actor from “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” Rose Marie, in honor of her 90th birthday. 

Craveiro said that anyone with a hankering to perform at the Cook-Off is invited to join her onstage at the Sunday morning opening ceremony to sing “The Star Spangled Banner.” 

“It’s in the key of F,” Craveiro said. “The Sea Cadets will be presenting colors and everyone is invited to come up and sing with me. We are so blessed to have such talent in Malibu, finding a line up of terrific talent for the Cook-Off was easy.” 

Some of the biggest funds raised at the event come from the raffle for the new car. At $100 a ticket, Paola said he expects they will sell about 425 tickets, so one’s odds are favorable to win the new Fiat. 

This year’s event has been stretched to include Monday as well, with a special ceremony Monday to present the Wounded Warrior Project with a check. 

“Over the years, the Kiwanis have raised about four million dollars for local groups,” Paola said. “The Cook-Off is a really great way to help the community.” 

The 32nd Annual Chili Cook-Off takes place Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Monday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Civic Center. 

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