Monday, June 8, 2009 | 11:40 p.m.
It doesn’t get any better than chili and beer.
Add in a salsa competition and some live music and you’ve got the perfect weekend activity.
Lake Las Vegas served up another helping of meat and beans at the Silver State Regional Chili Cook-off.
Chefs from around the Valley and as far as California and Arizona competed in the People’s Choice Award category plus the official red chili competition, officiated by the International Chili Society.
Chef Adam Cho, of Rick’s Café at Loews at Lake Las Vegas, took home second place in the People’s Choice category for his three-bean chili.
The other chili chefs were complimenting Chef Adam on the use of garbanzo beans -- an unusual component to chili that really worked well.
Another non-traditional ingredient was cactus, used by Chef Rodney Ignacio from Casino MonteLago. Chef Ignacio said, “you have to pluck off the spikes then boil the cactus so you can get to the sap inside.”
The nopales, as the cactus bits are called, added a sweet and tart flavor that cut the spice of Chef Ignacio’s green chili with chicken.
In addition to some of the chefs, there were some more familiar faces at the chili cook-off.
Chef Billy Joe, winner of the People’s Choice Award at January’s cook-off, was back as well. This time he was judging his fellow chefs’ work.
Wisely donning a red shirt in case of the errant spoonful of sauce, Chef Billy Joe put his taste buds through a workout sampling the various traditional reds, green chili entries, the more creative Peoples’ Choice submissions and even salsas.
Billy Joe looks at it as, “a great education to the palate.”
This chili cook-off offered a wide variety of chili including a delicious entry from the Auld Dubliner which used beef short ribs and had the consistency of a smokey barbeque.
Chef Tim Walsh, owner of Sonrisa Grill at Lake Las Vegas, had the most unusual entry: chocolate chili. Chef Walsh said, “I actually took some ancho chili truffles and cut them up and sautéed them with some heavy cream and red wine.”
Tommy’s Original Chili Factory, served on tasty treats from Tommy's Original World Famous Hamburgers in Los Angeles, had a good showing at the cook-off.
Tommy Koulax Jr. has been making the same recipe his father taught him since 1946.
In LA, they offer the chili as a hotdog and hamburger topping but on Saturday it was the star of the show. With its unusually creamy consistency and mild flavor, this chili was a real palate pleaser.
If you missed your chance to sample some of the area’s top reds and greens, look forward to next year when Sonrisa Grill at Lake Las Vegas will put on another chili cook-off in January.