New flavor for Chili Cook-Off

ICS chili judge Ormly Gumfudgin will not be at this year's festival as it is no longer an ICS sanctioned event. Photo by Heather O'Quinn / TMT

The 26th edition of the Kiwanis Club’s summer-end festival promises more chili with its new format.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

In past years, some Chili Cook-Off attendees might have felt wronged when they found there was no chili left because either the contestants ran out or attendees arrived past the scheduled time. However, things have changed. There will be loads of chili for everyone this year. The Malibu Kiwanis’ 26th annual Chili Cook-Off & Carnival taking place this weekend is not an International Chili Society-sanctioned event, so that means no more tight rules, but more chili to go around.

“The biggest complaint we had every year was people would come in looking for chili after 3 p.m., and there wasn’t any,” said Malibu Kiwanis President Sal Cirnigliaro, referring to the ICS rule that restricted what time and how long chili could be distributed.

Cirnigliaro said another problem was contestants were limited to bringing one gallon of chili, further adding to the supply running dry at a rapid rate. So this year, the Malibu tradition has declared its independence. There will still be winners named (a judges’ award, people’s choice award and award for the most-consumed chili). But, unlike in previous contests, the champion will not move on to a regional competition. And without the strict ICS rules, that means an unlimited supply of chili from the contestants, and no restrictions on ingredients.

“They [ICS] have certain rules about what chili you can make,” said Cirnigliaro’s wife, Rosanne. “[With the ICS rules] you can’t have any beans. But now you can have anything: vegetarian, chili with beef, with chicken, pork. There are no rules.”

Because of the change, this year’s event will not attract the more than 40 contestants it usually does-ICS competitors are not allowed to participate in unofficial events. Sal Cirnigliaro said he expects about 12 to 15 competitors this year, most of them local.

“There will be fewer contestants, and it might take a few years to catch on for us to get more,” Cirnigliaro said. “But they’ll be cooking 50 gallons of chili. So people can come in, buy chili, eat chili, have a glass of beer and have a good time.”

With the big-time chili makers out of the way, Cirnigliaro said, it would give locals a chance to compete, including ordinary [nonrestaurateur] individuals.

The festivities begin Friday at 5 p.m. with carnival rides and activities for young children, such as pony rides.

“That’s when most of the local people like to come,” Sal Cirnigliaro said. “It’s just opened and they get to sample everything and see their friends. But, of course, the general public is welcome as well.”

The event continues on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. The Chili Cook-Off contest takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be live music, games and vendors offering various foods, crafts and other items and information.

Sunday, there will be a raffle, with the grand prize, a 2007 Porsche Cayman from Beverly Hills Porsche. Runner-up can win round-trip tickets to anywhere in the continental United States. Malibu resident Pamela Anderson is expected to take a break from her Vegas magic show to pull the winning tickets.

The festivities conclude on Monday with more carnival fun from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The money raised by the Kiwanis Club from the Cook-Off and its other fundraising activities during the year goes to more than 100 charity organizations. Admission to the festivities is $10, with children under 12 admitted free. More information can be obtained by calling 805.404.0615.