2023 -Mad Hatter Chili

byMario Saccoccio


I started cooking for the ICS in 2006. I had been to a few Chili cook-offs in New England when I was young, but I had four little children and not much time or money! But I knew it was something I wanted to do. Eventually, I cooked at a local ICS cook-off, where I was hooked! I perfected my recipes over the years to compete against the best ICS cooks. I made the final table with Salsa a few times, but I finally placed 2nd with my Salsa in 2016 at the World's in Reno, then in a three-way tie for first, I placed 2nd at the World's in Myrtle Beach in 2022. The biggest thrill, of course, was winning the World's this year in Myrtle Beach. What an honor it was to be ranked among some of the best cooks in the ICS. I was truly amazed by that win! I still can't believe it! Over the years, I have been blessed with the greatest “Chili friends” that I had the privilege to compete against. Without the help and support from them, my family and my “Non-Chili Friends,” (who never really understood my passion for cooking chili,) I could never have won! A special thanks goes out to my wife, Diane, who supports me and has learned to make a killer Salsa of her own, and to my late wife, Alison, who was there from the start, the most competitive person I have ever known! Thank you all! “Mad Hatter Chili”


½ cup red onion finely chopped
½ cup white onion finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, (6) whites only
1 green pepper finely chopped
1 orange pepper finely chopped
1 red pepper finely chopped
1 yellow pepper finely chopped
2 Jalapenos (add to liquid mix the day before)
2 Serranos finely chopped
5 plum tomatoes finely chopped
2 TBL fresh lime juice
Cilantro finely chopped


1 Goya Tomato Sauce
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp Cumin
1 TBL lime juice
1 TBL Sweet Rice Wine
2 tsp Mrs. Wage's Salsa seasoning
¼ tsp Garlic Powder
1 Sasson (with Annatto)


Add chopped onions to bowl, mix with lime juice and lightly salt.
Add chopped peppers, one at a time, lightly salting each
layer. Add tomatoes 3 hours before turn-in, along with the
liquid mix. Mix well. Mix cilantro in cup, check the salt.