Cook-Off At The Boardwalk Turned Out To Be A Chili Afternoon

The third annual Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Chili Cook-Off was a big hit and drew hundreds of people to try out an assortment of the tasty stew.

A small cup, five tickets, and an official Peoples Choice stub for the tastiest chili was all that was needed to be a part of the third annual Chili Cook-Off at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Saturday.

Hundreds of people lined up with their official $9 Chili Tasting Kits in front colorful and vivid booths stocked with some of the spiciest, meatiest, and mouthwatering chili this side of the central coast.   

Folks were able to decorate their samples of chili at most of the booths with grated cheddar cheese, freshly chopped white or red onions, sour cream, soft cornbread, tortilla chips, and sliced baguettes.

Most of the chefs were from areas all over northern California like Mathew Maning from Stockton. The batch of chili Maning makes usually takes about three to five hours to cook. Only this time around he decided to switch it up a bit and added beans for the first time.

“Hopefully they come out pretty good in the end,” said Maning about adding the new ingredient to his chili. “Actually it’s good flavor, good aroma, and good color right now.”

And when asked what made his chili different from his competitors in Saturday’s event, Maning replied with a friendly grin, “It’s from Stockton, that valley heat.”

When people order a bowl of the beefy stew fit for a winter afternoon, a lot of the times ground beef or tri tip simmering in a big metal pot comes to mind right away.

However, an interesting change of taste for the palate was available at the Chili Cook-Off when one booth offered alligator meat in their chili and another added hot links to theirs.

Ryan Pang is the owner and mastermind behind Bad S. BBQ from Sunnyvale and he’s been serving up his award winning Smoked Hot Link Chili for three years. In fact, Pang has won a fair amount of prizes including the Boardwalk’s Chili Cook-Off People’s Choice, Most Tasted, and Judges awards in 2010.

He mentions one of the main reasons why he likes to come to Santa Cruz to compete in the Chili Cook-Off every year.

“It’s nice to be able to see the ocean early in the morning,” he said. “We got out here at seven o’ clock in the morning and it was still dark, but we seen the light come out and it was nice.”

“And it’s beautiful right now to turnaround, stir my chili, and try to win a couple of more awards. Get ‘em all beat up and take them around cause that’s how we roll.”   




BEST PROFESSIONAL  (Con Carne)      Chef

  1. Parish Public House                                      Zach Willis
  2. South Beach Pizza Co.                                  Dany Pena
  3. Bad S BBQ                                                  Ryan Pang




  1. Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing                      Emily Thomas




  1. Wine With Swine BBQ                                 Mark  Brown
  2. Ruskin Chile                                               Robert Skinner
  3. Hail Mary Hot Stuff                                     Lisa Kunz



BEST AMATEUR Vegetarian                                    

  1. Chili Con Carnage                                       Aaron Lipton
  2. The Chillinators                                          Jeff Muller
  3. Two Bad @$$’ess Gone Wild                        Mariellen Smolik



  1. Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing                      Emily Thomas
  2. Chili Con Carnage                                       Aaron Lipton
  3. Hot Mess                                                   Meaghan Linehan




  1. Wine w/Swine BBQ (Amateur)                     Mark Brown
  2. Bad S BBQ  (Professional)                           Ryan Pang




  1. Good Old Ben’s Tri-Tip Chili (Amateur)        Bennett Sawtelle
  2. Bad S BBQ (Professional)                            Ryan Pang




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