2021 -Donovan's "Code 3 Salsa"

byGail Donovan


My name is Gail Donovan, a Native Cincinnatian. Cincinnati is noted as the Chili Capital of the World because we have a “chili parlor” on practically every corner. In 1987 my husband, then an active Cincinnati Fire Fighter, Bill “Gumby” Donovan got us started on the ICS “chili trail”. We took on the team name of “Donovan’s Code 3 Chili” which in the world of fire means that an extra company needs to respond to help put out the fire. To our surprise he won and qualified to compete in the WCCC his very first cook off! Needless to say, he got us hooked and we have never looked back! Around 1992 I turned in my assistant apron bought a stove, a pot and listed all my favorite ingredients from Bill’s chili recipe. It took me 12 long years of cooking to win a first place to qualify for WCCC but I never gave up trying. As it stands currently, I am a master cook in Traditional Red and Verde Chili. In 1995 ICS started a Salsa division and I quickly discovered how much I loved experimenting with making Salsa with our grandsons. Matthew, 14 years old, has an awesome palate for balance of ingredients, especially salt which is key in any food competition. Joshua, 9, has to love the flavor of “the juice” the veggies create, and he will let me know if it “needs more juice Grandma”! Zachary, 5, lets me know the heat level by running around the kitchen and sticking out his tongue in need of something wet to put out the fire! It is only by writing this Bio that I discovered how well I have really done in my Salsa competitions. Thirteen first places including the WCCC in 2013, in 2016 and now again at the 54th Annual WCCC! First time ever someone has won three times in the same category at the World! We usually compete in 10-15 Sanctioned ICS events per year. Our hometown friends say we are crazy! Our reply: “Some people like to golf, while some spend their money and free time on hot rod bikes or fancy boats but we, the Donovan’s, like to travel around the world with suitcases filled with pots, pans, stoves, fire helmets and trucks, having a great time cooking chili for charity and meeting some of the best people (we call chiliheads) in the World”!!


8-10 roma tomatoes seeded and chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro - chopped
1 medium onion diced
4 jalapeno peppers seeded and finely diced
1 medium green pepper seeded and chopped
1 medium yellow pepper seeded and chopped
1 medium red pepper seeded and chopped
2 cloves of fresh garlic minced
2 6oz cans of tomato juice
2 Tbsp. lime juice - freshly squeezed
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil (light)
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce


Mix all ingredients together.

Just before serving, adjust Tabasco and salt to taste.