MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. –– The crowd was big, the chili was hot and the competition was fierce in Myrtle Beach, SC at the 54th Annual World Championship Chili Cook-off (WCCC) which took place September 17-19. With thousands of “chiliheads” in attendance, live music from Tennessee’s own Jake Hoot and The Smoky Nights, a chili demo from Brian Baumgartner (AKA Kevin from “The Office”) and an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean, there was only one way to make the weekend better –– winning.
The Cook-off included five Professional categories– Homestyle, Traditional Red, Verde, Veggie and Salsa. Outside of the Pros, the competition also held ancillary contests including a Firehouse Chili Challenge, benefitting first responders; a Youth Championship for chili cooks under the age of 18; a Community Chili Challenge that benefited local charities and nonprofits; and a World Open Chili Challenge which qualified its winner into the World Food Championships (WFC) this November in Dallas.
After all the chili dust settled, these teams were left standing as the winners:
Salsa: Gail Donovan (Three-time winner) (Cincinnati, OH)
Homestyle: Dianne Lewis (Boerne, TX)
Verde: Rosie Taylor (Santa Ana, CA)
Veggie: Nathan Graham (Dillsburg, PA)
Traditional Red: Randy Allen (Enola, PA)
The Ancillary Winners:
Firehouse Chili Challenge: Myrtle Beach Fire Department
Youth Championship Under 12: Emily Violette (Simpsonville, SC)
Youth Championship Over 12: Connor Gramm (Dillsburg, PA)
Community Chili Challenge: Benjamin’s Bakery & Cafe
World Open Chili Challenge: Lisa Rooks (Lake City, TN)
“The entire event and winner announcements were absolutely electric. It was as if everyone in attendance had just collectively won the competition,” said President and CEO of WCCC, Mike McCloud. “Even though all of the pro chili teams are very intense and serious about winning, they are a family, and they truly support and enjoy their fellow competitors' success. And after almost two years of not being able to compete, that made this weekend very special in Myrtle Beach!
Of the historic 54 years of the World Championship Chili Cook-off, founded by automotive racing legend Carroll Shelby, this was the first to be held in Myrtle Beach. After three days, over 200 competitors, 500 plus chili flavors and over $70,000 awarded in prize money, it was definitely a “grand” weekend for chili lovers on the “Grand Strand.”
About the International Chili Society
Legendary race car driver and automotive icon Carroll Shelby started the International Chili Society back in 1967 as a fun way to compete against his foodie friends. ICS sanctions more than 100 events a year nationwide with one mission – to continuously improve chili while raising money for charities and nonprofits. More than $100 million has been raised for charities by the chili arena since ICS was started. To celebrate each year’s pro-chili season, ICS holds a World Chili Championship Cook-off (WCCC) and crowns World Champions. To see previous winners, click here.