2000 World's Championship Chili Cookoff
It was hot!!!
With temperatures well above 100 degrees, the residents and visitors
of Laughlin, Nevada, probably thought it couldn't get any hotter,
but the weekend of October 6, 7 and 8th was hotter than ever before.
Some 200 chili and salsa cooks converged on the River Palms Resort
Casino, host of the 34th World's Championship Chili Cookoff, to
determine the best of the best in the chili world. Each team had
competed all year
for the opportunity to join the prestigious ranks of the qualified
contestants. The Semi-Finals took place on Friday evening with the
five finishers being, in no particular order as they say at the
beauty pageants, Randy Dietz, Bob Dyer, Kathy Hipskind, Fred Summers
and Mark Sweeney. Those who weren't qualified either during the
year or in the Semi-Finals got one last opportunity to do so on
Saturday. The winner of the Last Chance cookoff and very last qualified
contestant for the year 2000 World's Championship competition was
Determining a winner from this select group of cooks is no easy
task and the ICS calls on another qualified group to complete the
chore. Judges from all over the country with years of experience
join us every year with their fine-tuned palates ready to meet the
challenge. This year was no exception and we take our hats off to
them and give them our thanks. Fred Wieland serves as Chief Judge
of the World's Championship along with his wife, Leah, the Chief
Scorekeeper. After deliberating more than an hour, tasting and re-tasting,
the judges came up with the winner of the red chili competition.
The $25,000 prize money, the bronze chili pot and the prestigious
title of the Year 2000 ICS World's Chili Champion went to Jim
Weller of Bloomfield, Michigan, and his "Macktown Chili."
Jim has been cooking since 1983 and won the 2000 New York State
cookoff to advance to the WCCC. Jim's wife, Georgia, won the title
in 1996. The Weller's are the first husband and wife to each hold
the World's Championship titles. We're looking forward to having
Jim represent the ICS as Georgia has done since 1996.
2000 Verde Champion
Second place and $2000 went to Kitt Hoff from Columbus, Ohio, with
her "Leprechan Chili." Third place and $750 was awarded
to Joni Deere's "Red's Chili," Pana, Illinois, fourth
place and $500 to Marilyn Allen, Dayton, Nevada, "I Chase Chili"
and fifth place and $200 to Mike Hulka, Santa Ana, California, and
his "Beehive Chili."
This is the second year that The International Chili Society has
added a chili verde competition to their World's Championship. In
1999, our chili verde competition was rather small by comparison
to the bowl of red, but in the year 2000, we judged 89 bowls of
the green goodie. When it was over, Jerry
Simmons from Florissant, Missouri, was declared the Chile Verde
World's Champion. Jerry took home a trophy and a check for $2500.
In second place was Dione Cooley, a veteran red chili competitor
from Reno, Nevada. She went away with a trophy and $500 in prize
money. $200 and a trophy were presented to third place winner, Darol
Wetzel all the way from Manhattan, Montana. As you can see, our
World's Championship truly is comprised of contestants from all
over the country.
In recent years, to diversify the interests even more, ICS initiated
another red-hot competition - SALSA! After challenging their taste
buds with 80 plus varieties of salsa, our brave judges declared
Mark Ward the 2000 World's Salsa
Champion. Mark hales from Newhall, California, and comes from a
chili family. His father, Charlie Ward, and Charlie's wife, Barbara,
call themselves the Travelin' Chiliheads who cross the country each
year cooking chili and sending a full report to the ICS office in
an attempt to keep us all informed of what's happening everywhere.
2000 Salsa Champion
salsa winner was Tony Flamm and Mike Ford came in third. The salsa
competition is the one category at the World's Championship in which
the contestants can prepare their dish ahead of time, unlike the
chili verde or red chili that must be prepared on site during the
scheduled cooking time. For this reason, the participants have no
designated booth and the ICS staff, has no specific place to find
these folks to take their picture before they turn in their salsa.
We're gonna' have to work on that!
Most of the chili teams decorate their booths with a décor
that represents their chili name and the team of Mike Stewart went
way out there with their elaborate Baja Chili booth - winning first
place. Bill Donovan and Rocky Renfro followed with second and third.
We even had a golf tournament this year with the team of Sonny Allen,
Dave Lorenz and Dick Swenberger the big winners.
On Saturday night, after the Chili Verde and Last Chance competition
ended, a hot group of cooks, judges and other volunteers got together
for a little party. It was a double celebration. The chili folks
celebrated the fact that once again, we were all together to support
our love of cooking chili and the comradery that is derived from
it and we also took the opportunity to drink a toast to a past World
Champion, Dr. Ed "Doc" Pierczynski who retired from his
honest to goodness profession of doctoring in Carson City, Nevada.
Doc has said that he could hardly wait to retire so that he could
cook chili full time. We were happy and honored to have Cleo and
Carroll Shelby attend our get together. They sat and happily chatted
with each and every chilihead. Carroll had spent the day Saturday
signing autographs and obliging all to pose for pictures. On Sunday,
a few of his old cronies, as he calls them, showed up to share the
festivities of the two-day event. Mel Larson, formerly of Circus
Circus in Las Vegas, flew his helicopter over the site both coming
and going and Father Duffy from Southern California came up to give
the cooks his 25 years of judging expertise.
During the course of the day, the traditional Miss Chili Pepper,
Mr. Hot Sauce and the Shoot-N-Holler contests kept us entertained.
Claude Covington, the emcee for this year's World's Championship,
made short work of keeping them all running smoothly.
The sponsors of this year's championship were Tabasco and Corona
beer. Tabasco has sponsored our organization's contests for many
years and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts. They brought
along their terrific Tabasco clothing and "hot stuff"
products, which we sold all three days in the Tabasco booth. Our
very own members, Bill and Betty Storey acted as our sales staff
and were pleased at the rate the items flew out of the booth. Tabasco
donated a percentage of the sales back to ICS. Corona beer sent
us not only 200 cases of beer to be used in our judging tent and
to be sold, proceeds going to ICS 100 percent, but they sent us
their best looking representative, Ann Whiting from Ajijic, Jalisco,
Mexico. Ajijic is the site of the Mexican National Championship
that is scheduled to take place in February. A faithful group of
ICS cooks and judges make the trek to Mexico every year for this
That's about it! For 34 years, this special group of folks that
we refer to as chiliheads have gathered together to enjoy each other's
company and to share this hobby that benefits so many. Through the
years, The International Chili Society has raised millions of dollars
for charities around the world. Next year,
we'll do it all over again. Stay tuned.