Bob Plager, 55, won $25,000 at the International Chili Society’s World’s Championship Chili Cookoff in Charleston, WV. Bob has been cooking competition chili since 1980. His first chili cookoff was the Chilympiad (The Texas Men’s State Championship) in San Marcos, Texas, back in September of 1980, with over 400 chili cooks, one of the largest cookoff s in the country. He went there to party, and saw what competition chili was all about and how easy it was to make friends in the Chili World. Hooked, two weeks later, he was cooking his first pot of chili at John Thompson’s Post Oak Cookoff in Lake Tawakoni, Texas.
Bob was cooking only at the Original Tolbert Terlingua International Championship/Behind the Store (Tolbert/Behind the Store) and the Chili Appreciation Society International (aka CASI) cookoffs, 2 out of the three competing chili organizations that hold their Championships in Terlingua, Texas, from 1980-1996. Besides cooking chili, Bob was also heavily involved in the old show teams of the past at chili cookoffs. To put it mildly, Bob was cooking and/or “showing” at 30-40 cookoffs a year, back in Texas for over 16 years.
Bob met Kathy, his wife of eight years, at a chili cookoff in Denton, Texas, in February of 1984. Bob was on a great winning streak in 1985-1986, winning lots of first places. After getting together with Kathy in 1996, they combined their recipes and hit the chili trail together. First cooking in Texas, and then later that year, getting involved and traveling to International Chili Society cookoffs, they started cooking the same recipe, but because Bob was first place at more cookoffs than Kathy, she taking second or third places, Kathy came up with a different recipe to beat Bob, which she DID! Competition was born between the two of them and the rest is history.
For many years, Bob and Kathy have cooked with all 3 Chili organizations (ICS, Tolbert, and CASI). Bob won his first of three Tolbert Terlingua International Championships in November of 1996, while Kathy, his girlfriend at the time, was cooking at CASI (5 miles down the road) from the Tolbert site. After that win, they decided to always cook together. In November of 1998, Bob won his second Tolbert Terlingua International Championship, ONLY after Kathy had won the 1998 ICS World’s Red Championship a month earlier in Las Vegas. They traveled around the country that year as King and Queen of the Chili World. Then in 2006, Bob won his third title of Tolbert/Behind the Store International Champion, all the while, cooking and promoting chili, all around the country and in Canada. They also gave back, by running many Chili cookoffs in Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Montana, and previously in Texas.
Now with an ICS World’s Championship Red Chili win on October 7, 2012, Bob Plager is now a “WORLD CHAMPION” as well as an INTERNATIONAL CHAMPION. He has paid his dues, has helped promote Chili around the country, and has helped countless people with their chili and recipes. He will continue to be a Chili Ambassador, promote chili and the use of prunes in his recipe, which he claims “Gives the chili a little sweetness and gives the gravy a beautiful gloss.” Kathy and Bob Plager will be traveling around the country this chili year, first to get Kathy qualified to cook at next year’s World’s Championship in Palm Springs, California, and then to help chili cookoffs now and in the future.