The 5th Annual SCV Charity Chili Cookoff attracted a capacity crowd to Wolf Creek Brewery on Thursday to raise funds for SRD-Straightening Reins and Spotlight Arts Center.
Each year the event benefits different nonprofits. Past recipients have included (shelter operator) Bridge to Home, LARC Ranch, Help the Children, Single Mothers’ Outreach and the SCV Food Pantry.
This year’s Charity Chili Cookoff featured 40 chili cooks who paid $100 each to offer guests everything from elk to vegetarian chili.
“This is a fun event,” said Dan Sterkel, general manager of Galpin Subaru in Santa Clarita, who served guests his “Galpin’s Got Deals Chili.”
Sterkel said his chili wasn’t too spicy but offered up one of his chili secrets: “It’s got a touch of Buffalo sauce.”
Serving his “Green Chili,” novice chili chef Ian Griffin was accompanied by wife, Karen, and new baby, Flora.
“I found out about this six weeks ago, and I thought it would fun,” he said. “I learned to make chili then. This is my only chili recipe. It features steak and chili peppers.”
Griffin’s Green Chill Zone chili nabbed second place as voted by the chili judges.
Tamar House of Team House Real Estate said she was bringing back her Hot House Chili to the event.
“I cooked chili for the first event and won first place-People’s Choice” she said. “My chili has filet minion, bacon and all kinds of spices I can’t tell you about.”
House said she and husband Ryan House enjoy volunteering.
“We do everything we can to give back to the community. That’s why we are here,” she said. “We try to attend every event we can.”
House’s chili earned second place in the People’s Choice category.
Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth said: “You often see the same people at events,” but the chili cookoff attracts a different group of people who “want to be involved.”
“When you have something that’s for a good cause and you have a good product, people are going to show up,” he said. “And this is something different.”
Smith said he attended the event to support the nonprofits and the community. “But quite honestly, the chili here is the star.”
Held outdoors for the second year at Wolf Creek Brewery in Valencia, the event included chili tasting, a silent auction, dancing, mechanical bull rides, a photo booth, the Mary White Band, photos with the Wells Fargo stagecoach, the Sweet Beams ice cream truck and a roping demonstration by Erika Kauzlarich-Bird.
She has been roping since age 10, and she demonstrated her prowess to the appreciative cookoff crowd by repeatedly roping a small target.
“I started competing in high school and moved up to the professional rodeo circuit,” she said.
A native of the Santa Clarita Valley, Kauzlarich-Bird works as a Realtor but still finds time to compete.
Abi Levine kicked off the event by singing the national anthem.
Founder and event co-chair Nicole Stinson of Estate Realty Group said everyone seemed to enjoy this year’s cookoff, especially its Western theme.
“We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback,” she said. “We hope to continue growing this event and raising more and more money for charity.”
Co-chair Amanda Benson of Ask Amanda said this was her first year helping with the cookoff.
“I want to make a difference,” she said. “I knew with my background in events, I could help.”
Trophies were presented to those who served the best chili, as judged by food professionals and attendees.
Winners of the chili cookoff were:
People’s Choice: First place: Channi Kaur for Chicken Masala Chili; second place: Tamar House, Hot House Chili; third place: Ben Budhu and Greg Smith, Game of Thrones Chili.
Judges’ Choice: First place: Scott Ervin, Smokin’ Hot Here’s the Beef; second place: Ian Griffin, Green Chill Zone; third place: Jeff and Tracey Scott, Blazing Saddles Best Chili.
Winner of the Best Decorated Booth award was Scott Ervin with his Smokin’ Hot Here’s the Beef chili.
Judges were executive chef Dustin Boole of Newhall Refinery, executive chef Peyton Poulsen of Oaks Grille at Tournament Players Club, and Alex Rush, co-owner of Rustic Burger.
“This is for a great cause, and it’s fun,” said Poulsen. “Some of the chilies are really good, and some are very unique.”
Rush said he felt he was a “chili connoisseur” after sampling all 40 chilies offered at the event.
“I like chili,” he said. “I was intrigued by what they had to offer.”
The event is strongly supported by the real estate community in the SCV.
“Realtors in the SCV always give back and support the community,” said Christine Sexton of Realty Executives. “We’re always here to help.”
Ed Masterson served as event emcee. Gerard Cosmetics and Whitening Lightening were the title sponsors.
For more information, visit scvcharitychilicookoff.com.