2nd Annual San Jose Chili Cookoff

Berryessa Flea Market Back at it Again with the Spices
Radio personality Tony Sandoval enjoying the great tastes at last year's First Annual Cook offPhoto

Editor’s Note: This event has been canceled. Please visit sjfm.com for more info on this event and upcoming events at Berryessa Flea Market

Arturo Hilario

El Observador

Last October the Berryessa Flea Market hosted its first annual Chili Cookoff to great fanfare. Rich Alvari, Marketing Manager at the flea market, acknowledges that the idea paid off, and any challenges that were had for a start-up cookoff were small compared to the success of it.

The ICS is the non-profit which sanctions chili cookoff’s around the world. They set the rules for making all the different types of chilis.

For this year’s event, the competitors will battle it out in making red chili, chili verde, salsa and the people’s choice chili, which guests will have the option of voting for. Top prizes include $500 prizes for 1st place in the red chili and people’s choice

“It’s a contest with a lot of prize money and it would be a lot of fun if community members would join in, not just the ICS (International Chili Society) cooks,” says Alvari. His hope is to see community members curious about what judges and people think of their chilis to sign up and find out.

This year’s location will be in the Berryessa Flea Market Pavilion, a shady area where the only heat people will focus on is in the actual chili.

Just as last year’s cookoff,  All the money benefit Weingarten Children’s Center (WCC) in Redwood City. The school has provided services to deaf or hard of hearing children for 41 years in an effort to help them achieve their goals and become independent learners. From infancy to kindergarten, the WCC diagnoses, educates and offers the best support services for children with cognitive development issues.

The partnership started last year has been beneficial for both WCC and Berryessa Flea Market, and through the fun of the cookoff is a feeling of wholesomeness, knowing that the event helps fund such a progressive school for children and their families.

Alvari adds, “and of course the goal is to run out of chili at some point. 10 pounds of meat in the red chili, they are not allowed to put beans. It’s real true, Texas roadhouse chili, it’s meat.”

One interesting fact is that because it is a charitable event, somebody has to donate the meat that’s going to be used in the People’s Choice category. Alvari says that this year Smart & Final stepped up to provide the meat, a critical help to the cook off this year. “They called me out of the blue saying, ‘we heard about your chili cookoff and wanted to be involved this year’.” That means ten pounds of meat multiplied by however many cooks participate. That is a lot of meat, but this ends up helping everyone in the end, including the cooks, and most of all those that will enjoy the fruits of the labor while tasting the chili.

Pricing this year for the tasting kits is $15 for one and two kits for $25. Part of what’s going to happen is that the money included in the tasting kit fee is going towards a nice addition to last year’s prizes. WCC is putting up a 7-day accommodation trip for two  to a resort & spa in Antigua.

“It adds to the fun and the suspense to it too. There’s something else at the end of the day,” says Jessica Greenman, an Alumni Parent and current Development Coordinator at WCC who was the one to work on this event last year.

This, as well as a $2000 travel credit, will be up for grabs at the cookoff on July 23rd. A great cause, some great chilis, and the chance to get a massage in paradise await.

“They’re incredible chilis, last years world champion was one of the cooks at this event’s first annual. Alvari adds, “this is going to be really tasty stuff.”


Think you can cook?

Those interested in showing off your chili cooking skills may contact Rich Alvari at (408) 453-1110 for all questions and details. Visit sjfm.com for additional details.