Local law enforcement to judge chili

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The 24th Malibu Kiwanis Club Chili Cook-Off takes place this weekend, with local sheriff’s captain and CHP captain slated to help judge chili made by contestants.

By Andrisa Anderson/Special to The Malibu Times

It’s Labor Day weekend and time for the Malibu Kiwanis Club annual Chili Cook-Off. The fundraising event, in its 24th year, has become a tradition for locals and international participants alike with a history solely for assisting community organizations.

This year’s Kiwanis Club president, Lisa Grace-Kellogg, said about 25 vendors for the Cook-Off and 18 food vendors will participate to raise money for yearly activities and costs.

All proceeds raised from the ticket sales will be donated to nonprofit Malibu youth organizations such as Boy Scouts Troop 224, Malibu High School and Malibu Little League. Malibu Kiwanis has been providing money for these groups since 1982.

“True charity should be giving away the money, not using it for us,” said Grace-Kellogg, who is also a five-year member.

Fraternities and sororities from nearby Pepperdine University have made participation in the Chili Cook-Off a tradition. The Cook-Off is the first activity of the school year for most students, said Chris VanZelzer, student organizations coordinator and part-time business school graduate student of Pepperdine.

“It’s a fun way to have some activity in the beginning of the school year to bring people back from summer and see old friends,” VanZelzer said. “Overall, it’s a long-standing tradition in Malibu, and it’s always been a fond memory when I participate.”

The fraternities and sororities will join the domestic cooks competition with a chili creation. Janice Ying of the Alpha Phi sorority plans on competing with others this year.

“It was a lot of fun [in past Cook-Offs]. I saw a lot of my friends and I enjoyed it,” Ying said.

However, the Cook-Off did not always include the entertainment now provided to meet the tastes of the various visitors that include children, families and adults looking for a fun weekend.

The first Malibu Chili Cook-Off took place in 1982, the year the Kiwanis Club was chartered in Malibu. A horse corral was the major attraction and lasted one day, said Steve Morrison, an original member of the Kiwanis, who has chaired the event for four years and plans to volunteer again. The third year featured a weight lifting contest and the following year the Cook-Off incorporated a circus theme.

Bob Bauman, Malibu Kiwanis’ first president, came up with the idea of a Cook-Off to raise money for the then Saint John’s Health Center, now known as Malibu Urgent Care, which received the money for the first two years the Cook-Off was held. There has always been the judging of the chili, which includes six categories this year such as the Salsa Competition, People’s Choice and, of course, Malibu’s Favorite.

Planning begins nearly 11 months in advance with a committee of volunteers who schedule entertainment and organize permits to use Malibu Bay Co.’s land, which is donated for free.

A chief judge and 20 others will rate the cooks’ chili within an hour. Local judges include Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Captain Tom Martin and California High Way Patrol Captain Greg Klein.

This year, bands such as Speed Buggy and the Melvin Eddy Blues Band will perform, contributing to the 12-band line up this weekend. A 2004 Porsche Boxster will be raffled this year, another tradition for the Cook-Off.

“It’s the largest event Malibu has and lots of people get together for it and enjoy the activities,” Morrison said.

The festivities start Friday with family night. The two-day Chili Cook-Off begins on Saturday.