Monday, August 30, 2010

Chili Cook-Off A Success

Our friends in the Halecrest-Hall of Fame area of Costa Mesa did themselves proud yesterday. Their sixth annual chili cook-off was a rousing success.

Blessed with perfect weather and a record crowd, the sponsors should be feeling pretty darn good about their event today.

More than 20 versions of chili were available for the public to sample, ranging from "pretty darn mild" to "blow your socks off spicy". My wife and I tried most of them and, much to my chagrin, she decided the chili being served by Mayor Allan Mansoor was the best because it "didn't bother her stomach as much". Arrrggghhh! According to reports, neither Mansoor nor his Assembly rival, Phu Nguyen, won the top prize.

Winners - there really were no losers in this competition - included the Wingnuts chili which was deemed to be the spiciest; the McCarthy clan of Planning Commissioner Colin McCarthy won for most unique and best overall was snagged by entry number 10. Sorry, my source didn't have the name of the contestant. Second over all went to #16 and third went to #3, Chris Blank. The people's choice award went to the Cowboy Chili. UPDATE: A little after 5:00 p.m. Jim Fitzpatrick sent me the official finish results: #3, Chris Blank & Grovey Chili; #2, Yvon Dunne & Mom's Chili, #1, Luise Fiduccia & Dad's Old Fashioned Chili. Congrats to all!

One thing about a chili cook-off - it's a gift that just keeps on giving. If I'd have been half-smart I would have set up a Tums booth!

As you might expect, many local politicians were seen at this event. Wendy Leece had a chili booth, as did Jim Righeimer. Also spotted in the crowd were planning commissioners Sam Clark and Jim Fitzpatrick, the latter as part of the judging panel along with Realtor Larry Weichman, Assistant City Manager Tom Hatch and Chamber of Commerce President Ed Fawcett.

(Hatch, Weichman, Fitzpatrick, Fawcett)
Parks & Rec. Commission Chairman Mike Brumbaugh, the driving force behind this event, seemed to be everywhere. We also came across his Vice Chair, Terry Shaw, cruising the chili booths, searching for that perfect sample. Former Planning Commissioner Jim Fisler, currently campaigning to return to his appointed seat on the Mesa Consolidated Water District Board, stopped to visit while sampling chili.

We saw Katrina Foley (here with Phu Ngyyen) working the crowd and had a nice visit with Fairgrounds CEO Steve Beazley, too. Everywhere we looked there were smiles, smiles and more smile. In fact, the only frown I saw during my couple hours at this event was on the face of one perpetually grumpy old Mesa North resident observed lurking about, apparently on the prowl for something anti-white about the event so he could write about it.

The vivacious young folks from the Costa Mesa High School Cheer Squad entertained the crowd with a few routines, including one with members of their youth cheer camp. Great job!


A half dozen custom and/or special cars were on display in the shade - a nice touch for us old car fans. I really liked John Rubright's Studebaker convertible.

Thanks to those of you who made it a point to say howdy as we wandered around the crowd. It's always nice to put a face on a name and your kind words about the things you've read here are much appreciated.

And, no, the Mayor was not happy with my commentary in the Daily Pilot. He got pretty animated when he told me I was off-base with my question about why he left his job last December. And, no, he didn't clear up the mystery at all - he just said he left to do "other things" - so we are left to speculate. He went back to slinging chili, less happy than he was before. Such is life in politics.


I did have a chance to meet Mansoor's competition, Phu Nguyen, as he was serving his chili to the crowd. He took a couple minutes to visit with me. Phu seems like a smart young fellow who is serious about going to Sacramento go make a difference in the state. Of course, that's what every candidate says. I understand he's been interviewed by two reporters from the Daily Pilot and that their stories will appear soon. I didn't try his chili - the thought of fish sauce in chili was off-putting for me.

Yep, this was a very special event and a great example of what makes Costa Mesa such a wonderful place in which to live.

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Blogger Beyond 25,550 Days said...

With all the politicians stirring the chili pots, I have a different assessment:

4th Place for too much of one seasoning spoils the pot;
3rd Place for just a plain old all American;
2nd Place goes to the chili with no personality and
1st Place for a nice surprise with a new twist.

Yes, this was a great community event.

8/30/2010 02:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Holly Schwartz said...

It was a great day. I am good friends with the overall winner and was hoping you could correct the spelling of her name (it's a hard one!). The winner was Louise Fiduccia. Thanks!

8/30/2010 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Holly, done and done. The previous spelling was provided by judge Jim Fitzpatrick - might be a result of that marginal Notre Dame education I tease him about! :-) Thanks for the opportunity to set the record straight. By the way, I had some of her chili - yummy!

8/30/2010 07:16:00 PM  
Anonymous chili_eater said...

This is the second account I've read that had Mansoor being grumpy. Why did he bother showing up if he was just going to be sour?

His chili was meaty, but bland.

Still, it's nice they all made the effort.

Fun event.

8/31/2010 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

chili_eater, as far as I know, Mansoor was only grumpy with me. There's not much on which we agree. The grump was that other clown...

8/31/2010 09:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Vern said...

Damn, Geoff, I didn't see you there, because I didn't look for you, because you told me you weren't coming. Actually you expressed great worry about what might be included in unregulated chili.

I ended up talking to Allan too! Sitting around Phu's table, and wandering around, I glanced at the guy and he looked so sad and lonely, especially whenever Daisy Tong would leave the table, I decided to go make small talk.

I told him that Barbara Coe's group really missed him at their potluck the day before, and he laughed, "Yeah, I'm sure you would have loved to get my picture there!" (Don't tell him I don't have a camera.)

He also said he preferred the FIRST version of my "Tainted Sale" to the sequel. I wasn't surprised, and said, "That's probably because we were all on the same side back then."

Finally I told him, "Well we disagree on a whole lot of stuff, but I just wanted to say hi!" You're right it was a pretty great event. I was too late to taste most of the chili, but I had several bowls of some lady's really good "Dragon Stew."

9/05/2010 07:53:00 AM  

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