The Proclaimer’s food critic to judge 7th Annual SCV Charity Chili Cook-OffSean Malin March 17, 2019 0 COMMENTS
Earlier this month, the 7th Annual SCV Charity Chili Cook-Off announced that musician and The Voice contestant Karli Webster, local chef Leslie Kaz, celebrity veterinarian Karen “Doc” Halligan and The Santa Clarita Valley Proclaimer’s own Food Critic (me) have been selected as judges for the event on March 21. In a change of venue from previous years, the cook-off will take place in The Oaks Club at Valencia, where both a People’s Choice and a Judges’ Choice prize will be awarded.
Between the upcoming Cowboy Festival’s Chili Cook-Off and last year’s Fun in the Sun Chili Cook-Off to raise money for the Special Olympics Southern California, chili has emerged as the Santa Clarita Valley’s plat du siècle. But perhaps no event has done more to pollinate the culinary identity of this city with chili powder than the SCV Charity Chili Cook-Off. Since its founding by Nicole Stinson and Marcy James in 2012, the fundraiser has expanded into a mainstay for Santa Clarita’s gourmands, an event that brings cuisine and culture together in the name of various non-profit organizations.
Appropriately given its popularity – previous events have seen more than 1,000 guests – 45 amateur chefs are participating in this year’s cook-off as contestants (with a contest entry fee of $125). This represents a challenge for us judges, whose job it is to sample each chili in portions of less than one ounce and rate them based on color, texture and flavor. We will also be offered sorbet and water for palette-cleansing between tastes, though oddly, antacids will not be provided, as far as I’ve been told.
During the judging process, the wider club space will serve as a temporary home to both a live and a silent auction, deejaying by Graham Silver and musical performances from locals like Webster, Gruven Tom and Jerry Danielsen, among others.
As the cook-off has grown, so too has its estimable power as a charity. This year, several of the Santa Clarita Valley’s most visible industry leaders, including Princess Cruises and Logix, have agreed to sponsorships. Steve Portaro, the co-chair of the event with Stinson, said in a statement: “Our goal has no cap and we are benefitting two charities this year, so we need twice the donation power to help both amazing causes with their continued success.”
Funds raised by the cook-off will be split between two Santa Clarita-operated animal shelters: Shelter Hope Pet Shop in Valencia and St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary/Lange Foundation in Canyon Country. Shelter Hope dedicates its resources to eliminating “puppy mill pet ships in our malls across the nation,” while St. Bonnie’s takes a broader approach to animal care by nurturing dogs, cats and horses on its 4.5-acre ranch property. Both are expected to have presences at the March 21 event.
The Oaks Club at Valencia is located at 26550 Heritage View Ln, Valencia, CA 91381. While all cooker spots are full, cash donations and gift baskets for the auctions can be sent throughout the website, where tickets to the 7th Annual SCV Charity Chili Cook-Off are still available.