People know a cook-off competition is successful when it runs out of food early.
The second annual family-friendly Gulfport Artsy Phartsy Chili Cook-Off and Salsa Showoff event was a hit with attendees and participants based on the availability of good eats and attendance.
On Sunday, March 19, the competition between 10 chefs or cooking teams at the Historic Gulfport Casino began at 4 p.m. By an hour later, several had run out of chili.
“We started with three-and-a-half gallons of chili and two huge trays of corn bread,” said Chef Paul Ray, a veteran chili cook-off competitor at other events. By 5 p.m., his table was bare. “We went through about 150 sample-sized serving cups.”
The event lasted until 7 p.m. and included live music from Gulfport’s Urban Gypsies of Florida.
The $10 for adults and $5 for kids entry fees gave people unlimited access to food presented by 10 different contenders.
Attendance was about 225, which was three times the 2016 number, said Amy Oatley, co-owner of Business Brainstormers of Gulfport, the cook-off sponsor.
“We stopped selling tickets at 5:30 p.m. because the chili was gone,” said Oatley.
Lynn DiVenuti, co-owner of the sponsoring business, was all smiles regarding the turnout.
“Everyone is having a great time,” said DiVenuti. “Next year, it’s going to be twice as big.”
Blind judging determined the best chili and salsa winners for medals and a $100 cash prize while attendees decided the People’s Choice award through the purchase of unlimited vote tickets that sold for $1 each. All winners walked away with a year’s worth of bragging rights.
The $227 raised for the fan favorite was split 50/50 between the winning chef and the event’s 2017 local non-profit charity, Gulfport’s Limbo Chihuahuas & Chihuahua Mix Rescue. Additionally, ten percent of the proceeds from the event were donated to the rescue group.