One of the highlights during summer in Santa Cruz is the Santa Cruz Boardwalk’s Annual Chili Cook-Off. This last summer was the 5th and people brought their appetites as they joined in the fun. Both professional and amateur chefs worked their culinary magic to compete for the title of Best Chili! The team for East Side Eatery won 2nd place in the Best Professional Chili (Con Carne) division! Capitola By The Sea got to ask Derek Rupp, owner of ESE a few questions about their win and his chili.
Capitola By The Sea: Where did the recipe come from?
Derek Rupp: The recipe came from a good friend of mine. It’s a family recipe and his dad had won with it in some chili cook off’s in Texas and Oklahoma. Funny thing was that we forgot it on the day of the cook off so there was quite a bit of improvising.
CBTS: What’s your favorite ingredient?
DR: Favorite ingredient, I have 2. The mixture of chili’s we used, some sweeter and some hotter, I felt it gave the chili and lot of depth and complexity. We used a mixture of red, green and orange bell peppers, jalapenos, habaneros, serranos, anaheim, banana, pasilla, chipotle, and scorpion. Also we added a healthy amount of skirt steak I liked this because it gave the chili a more hearty texture as apposed to using just ground meat.
CBTS: How long have you been making chili?
DR: Funny thing is that I really never made chili before the cook off and most of it was vegetarian. Our team met twice before the competition and did test batches. But as I mentioned before, we forgot the recipe.
CBTS: Are you going to enter again next year?
DR: We will enter again for sure next year!
CBTS: Do you have any chili making advise for those that want to make their own chili?
DR: My advise for chili makers out there is keep it simple and use quality ingredients. We used a lot of chili’s and three types of meat but other than that our chili only had 6 other ingredients. Chili is great as it is and there is no need to reinvent the wheel by adding other things to it. In my opinion chili should be meat and chili, that’s it.
Well there you have it! Chili is great on these cold winter evenings. And keeping it simple is great advice…