Malibu Kiwanis Club Chili Cook-Off bustles in 31st year

Cherrystone’s Leonard Kim pours his 30-year-old recipe for chili, which was Saturday’s first place Chili Cook-Off winner.

Organizers at the 31st annual Malibu Kiwanis Chili Cook-Off proclaimed the event a success after a strong turnout over Labor Day weekend.

“The donations from the community were very generous,” said Chili Cook-Off coordinator and president John Paola.

For the 31st edition of the venerable community event, the Kiwanis Club promised a new set of rides, hoping to modernize it from the year before. And the lot was alive, crawling with an audience that included adults as well as youngsters alike.

A car raffle concluded Sunday evening when a white Fiat was awarded to Kiwanis member Ozzie Silna after his name was pulled from a pool of over 500.

When it came down to the actual cooking contest the event is named for, it was a couple of familiar faces that came out on top in contests on Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, Cherrystone restaurant took first place, T-squared Country Chili and Pete’s Pulled Pork Chili tied for second, and Henry’s Tropical Turkey Chili placed third.

It was the second year in a row Cherrystone restaurant took home the win, according to owner Leonard Kim.

“We came back this year, and we were fortunate to win,” Kim said. “We were very, very happy.”

Kim launched Cherrystone after receiving help from his friend when developing his chili recipe that includes prime rib, sirloin and shoulder meat from beef. It boasts a strong track record, claiming awards at other cook-offs.

On Sunday, Pete’s Pulled Pork reached first place, trailed by Cherrystone winning second and T-squared taking third.

Peter Tulaney, chef for Pete’s Pulled Pork and owner of the Malibu Art Barn, won with a different recipe in 2009 before creating a new one, which won for the first time this year.

“Pulled pork just has a great flavor. It’s pretty fun and easy to cook,” he said, explaining they use pork shoulder, braising it in Dr. Pepper.

“It has a really nice, sweet, molasses flavor to it.”

Pete’s Pulled Pork knows T-squared from outside the competition since all of them play on the Malibu Rugby Team together, Tulaney said.

“Everyone on the rugby team cooks together,” he says, adding that the two groups engage in a playful rivalry.

“We basically taunt each other for the entire year.”

Judges critiqued contestants’ chili on its appearance, its aroma, if it had the right amount of each ingredient, how hot it was and, most importantly, its taste. Aside from chili, attendees also enjoyed other types of food that ranged from polish sausages to calamari.

Wine from Malibu-based Hoyt Family Vineyards, along with tap beer from a separate truck, was served in one area that was bustling with a bar-like atmosphere on the opening night. Carol Hoyt, who owns Hoyt Family Vineyards and lives on its Kanan-Dume vineyard, called the scene “a great big party” and said it was nice to have local wine represented at the event.

Beyond the food, raffles and attractions, the event functioned as an effort to help the military.

Mari Stanley, volunteer for Operation Interdependence, joined forces with the Malibu Kiwanis Club to donate a “Quilt of Valor” to charity organization Wounded Warriors, which aims to assist disabled soldiers. Malibu residents created the quilt that included signatures from them and the city’s council members.

Stanley shared that, in past instances, veterans have felt gratified to realize the level of public appreciation with other quilts.

“We would like to see more of these quilts being donated to the Wounded Warriors as an appreciation of the service from the actual people,” she said.

“We wanted to give the Wounded Warriors a very nice gift next month, which will be presented by our mayor, Lou La Monte,” Paola said.