Submitted by Susan Gore
What do you get when you mix signature chili recipes, plus several salsas, live music and a trio of local celebrity judges? Gulfport’s Artsy Phartsy Chili Cookoff and Salsa Showdown on Sunday, March 20. The weather may have been blustery outside but it was just right inside the Casino as chefs representing a number of local restaurants and independent chili aficionados brought their best to an appreciative crowd that sampled their way through the afternoon and evening while Cindi Burger provided live music ranging from pure country to ‘80s and ‘90s rock. The Tampa Bay Outlaws also entertained with tasty line-dancing moves midway through the event.
Winners of the competition were Boca Bay Grill’s multi-bean chili, which featured Italian sausage in a mildly spicy sauce, and Smokin’ J’s salsa.
Vice-mayor Yolanda Roman was smiling but admitted, “I can’t smell a thing” after judging and comparing the taste and olfactory appeal of a dozen different styles of chili and salsa. Michael Yates of the MY Foundation and Gabber publisher, Ken Reichart, rounded out the panel of judges.
The event benefitted the MY Foundation and Gulfport Neighbors. Former chef and event organizer, Lynn DiVenuti, noted, “We started the Artsy Phartsy cookoff to have fun and raise awareness of two local charities that serve Gulfport in important and different ways. MY Foundation supports programs that benefit underprivileged children and seniors while Gulfport Neighbors sponsors local improvement projects like beach clean-ups, Junk in the Trunk recycling and the Get Rescued! Pet Rescue Spring Street Fair.
“We want to thank everyone who competed and everyone who made the event a success by supporting MY Foundation and Gulfport Neighbors,” Lynn added. “We look forward to seeing you next year!”