The heat is on: Chefs prepare tasty specialties

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Dan Morales. Photo Credit Ecliptic Media.

41st Annual Chili Cook-Off promises heat, flavor, and community spirit

By Barbara Burke

Special to The Malibu Times 

When the 41st annual Malibu Chili Cook-Off opens on Friday, Sept. 1, at 4 p.m., excited attendees will, as they always do, almost immediately line up to taste the varieties of chili vying to win the prestigious first place prizes in the vegan, and meat categories. Attendees are able to buy samples of the homemade chili during the entire four-day event. However, they can vote for their favorite chili for the People’s Choice awards only on Friday.

Chili chefs have been zealously preparing to present delicious versions of chili, each offering their own twists on how much heat and spice to include in their recipes.

“Malibu’s chili cookoff is amazing,” Executive Chef Diana Stavaridis of Beyond Meat said. “Tell everyone to get their taste buds ready!” 

Chef D., as she’s affectionately known, readily shares some, but not all, details about her ingredients.

“Our meat chili will feature both beef and steakhouse steak, so it will be nice and meaty,” she said. “Chili powder and smoked tomatoes and our special steak sauce help to form the base, and I use all sorts of chili peppers for the pastes, including Anaheim, Guajillo and Chipotle chilis.”

“Chef D. and her team were the mastermind behind the Beyond Meat Vegan Chili that won first prize last year,” said Sidney Sauter, director of quick food service at Beyond Meat. 

Heartily agreeing, Chef D. elaborated, “The vegan chili will be super-packed with protein as it has a double plant-based protein which provides a protein level that matches animal protein and, importantly, it’s also cholesterol free.”

Sauter noted that a Beyond Meat food truck also will be at the event, providing attendees with even more vegan cuisine. 

Chef Diana Photo Credit Matthew Seifnia Productions
Chef Diana. Photo Credit by Matthew Seifnia Productions.

“All the proceeds from both the chili that we sell and the food truck go directly to the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu,” Sauter said. “That’s what the event is all about.”

Dan Morales is spearheading Universal Music Group’s submission of chili, also in both the meat and vegan categories. By day, Morales is the business’ chief information officer in charge of all things technology. 

“I’m passionate about cooking in my leisure time.” Morales said, manifesting that clearly, he takes his chili recipes seriously. “This year we’ve modified our Vegan Texas Impossible Chili slightly and our Texas Brisket Chili will include fresh jalapeno, pasilla and red bell peppers. Then, it’s important to note that I add in ancho, paseo and New Mexico chili powders.” 

So, how did a music industry executive end up spooning up chili at Malibu’s biggest community event every year?

“Universal’s involvement in the Malibu Chili Cook-Off happened accidentally when an employee jokingly suggested that the company compete in the chili cook-off,” He said. “So, we did and we won prizes in both the vegan and meat categories that first year!”  

Morales noted that, like Beyond Meat, 100 percent of the proceeds from Universal’s chili sales go to the Boys & Girls Club. 

“We are all in the Cook-Off for philanthropy, but also for fun as our employees love to get out and volunteer,” He said. “Even employees’ kids get involved, and by doing so, they qualify for volunteer hours.” 

Chili winners will be announced on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 5 p.m. 

Chef D. and Chef Morales — and all the chef contestants — invite Malibuites to bring a hearty appetite and a discerning palate. May the best chili win!