Rotary’s Ring of Fire Chili Challenge creates quite a stir

Karlos Ayala and Bill Raney. [Photo: Denise Ritchie]

A dash of this and a sprinkle of that set the recent Ring of Fire Chili Challenge aflame at Riverside Park. Sunrise Rotary Vero Beach has kept the chili pot bubbling, taking over last year after the Indian River County firefighters passed on the ladle of the former Indian River County Chili Cook-off.

Participants stirred 10-gallon pots of chili concoctions, ladling up 23 different versions of the spicy stew. Chefs toiled over large cauldrons, tossing in everything from chocolate and beer to venison and turkey and, of course, lots and lots of peppers.

Chili-heads dined al fresco to the tunes of the Humdingers, along with Slip and the Spinouts as they mulled over their favorite dishes before submitting their votes for People’s Choice Awards. Participants competed in nonprofit, individual, business and restaurant categories, as well as a separate Battle of the Brewers category, where beer was featured in the recipes.

In a blind tasting, a panel of local personalities assessed each cup of chili for its aroma, taste, texture, color, aftertaste and bite.

Proceeds benefit Sunrise Rotary’s community projects and scholarships. Their next big fundraiser is the Florida Craft Brew & Wingfest, Feb. 15 at Royal Palm Pointe.

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First-Place Chili Winners:

  • Nonprofit: St. Francis Manor
  • Individual: Eric Flowers for Sheriff
  • Business: Vatland Honda
  • Restaurant: Fishack
  • People’s Choice: Hodge Podge

Battle of the Brewers Chili Winner

  • First Place and People’s Choice:  Sailfish Brewing Company


Photos by: Kaila Jones
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