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Chili Chefs Ready to Stoke Up Fiery Flavors

More than 65 entrants will compete in the competition in Fillmore. The daylong event will include samples for the public.


Sinuses will be clearing all over Fillmore today as more than 65 chili chefs arrive in Central Park for the 10th annual Sespe Creek Regional Chili Cook-Off & Car Show.

The cook-off is a regional event sanctioned by the International Chili Society. Today's winner will vie for a $25,000 grand prize at the ICS championships, Oct. 6 in Reno.

Chili preparation, which will be done almost entirely on-site, begins at 10:30 a.m. Cooking begins at noon and judging starts about 3 p.m. Cooks will serve up chili samples to the general public after they have submitted their entries. Cost is $5 for 15 taste tickets. Festivities will run until 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Jim Beaty, co-chair and founder of the chili cook-off, said the key to a champion chili is a balance of spices and a rather simple approach.

"A good chili is just a basic setup. You don't need a lot of gourmet stuff," Beaty said. "It's not a sweet chili, it's not a tomato sauce, it's not a beef stew. It's just meat and sauce. That's what it is."

Beaty should know. The Fillmore resident won the ICS world championship in 1986 and has made it to the finals almost every year since. Beaty qualified for the 1996 finals with a victory in the Arizona State Regional Cook-Off earlier this year.

Now a veteran on the circuit, Beaty got his first taste of competitive chili cooking in 1983.

"I went out and cooked at a chili cook-off on a dare. I thought I could really cook a mean pot of beans," he said. "There was a cook-off at the Buenaventura shopping center and my friend and I were going to enter. I showed up, he didn't. There were 25 cooks and I think I finished 27th."


Backyard chefs may want to think twice before putting that tri-tip on the barbecue during today's Fourth of July activities. Guests actually may prefer something other than beef.

"Generally speaking, people are looking more now to doing white meats, fish and vegetables on the barbecue," said Stuart McDonald, manager of Barbeques Galore in Oxnard. "That has changed considerably."

The secret to successful barbecuing of fowl, fish or veggies is a gentle approach, McDonald said.

"The main thing with the more delicate foods," he said, "is not to hit it with the direct heat from the flames."

Though it is too late to help this afternoon's holiday cooks, Barbeques Galore offers periodic seminars and workshops. The free presentations cover barbecuing basics and various ways for cooks to get the most out of their grills. Look for the next workshop around the third week of July.

McDonald and his crew will celebrate the Fourth of July by grilling up hamburgers and hot dogs until 4 p.m. today at the store, 1700 Ventura Blvd., Suite D, Oxnard.


Wine enthusiasts may find a drive to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties well worth the time during the KCBX Central Coast Wine Classic from Sunday through July 14.

There will be food and wine events all week, including lunch with Chef Michel Richard of Santa Barbara's Citronelle, tastings of wines straight from the barrel and dinners at wineries throughout the central coast.

Festivities will conclude with a Grand Winetasting, July 14 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Avila Beach Resort in Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo County. More than 75 wineries will be featured.

* Tickets to the Grand Winetasting are $30 (general), $15 (designated drivers). Other event packages range from $155-$825. Call 781-3026.

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