My first exposure to ICS chili was cooking for the local charity which essentially meant cooking the People’s Choice pot. Cooking between a couple of high-powered competitors quickly showed me that I was not ready for prime time. Having chaired numerous cookoffs got me invited to judge at the Worlds in 1996. That’s where I made many friends who encouraged me to compete. Once I started competing in 2000, I got a lot of helpful advice from some former champions. My chili started getting better judges’ reviews. I first qualified in salsa in 2002, red chili in 2004, and chili verde in 2006. Even with all that…nothing gets turned in until it passes the “Wendy test”. My wife is credited with having the more refined palate. Over the years, I've seen much of the U.S. and made a lot of friends, some I consider family. Every cookoff feels like a combination of family reunion and block party. I’ll tell anybody who’ll listen “It’s chili. Don’t complicate it”.