(PUEBLO, CO) — The spiciest weekend in Southern Colorado is upon us.
The Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival is kicking off Friday, Sept. 22, but on Thursday, judges chose the champions of the 2023 Chili & Salsa Showdown, including FOX21’s Taylor Bishop.
She was burning and learning about the gastrointestinal fortitude it takes to judge a contest like this.
The Chili & Salsa Showdown is judged in two rounds, commercial and non-commercial. There were 120 entries this year and to put that in perspective, there were about 40 total last year.
You can expect anything from family recipes passed down from generation to generation, to local restaurants vying to be crowned the chili champs with their popular dishes.
Mother and daughter, Stephanie & Brianna Spinuzzi said, “As long as this is first and this is second, and Uncle Georgie can be third. We’ll just keep it in the family.”
Mom, Stephanie is competing in the commercial side for Riverside Bar & Grill. Her daughter, Brianna entered her green chile in non-commercial, bringing the heat against her uncle.
“Well I’ve been doing it actually for 17 years now,” said Stephanie.
And the folks at Riverside seem to know what they’re doing.
“We’ve won first place, second place, third. It’s just a matter of making the best pot you can and bringing it down and waiting for the results,” said The Spinuzzis.
Everything from taste, texture, and of course, spice are taken into consideration.
Chef Bill Thompson, who also judged the event said, “Take one bite, because there’s a lot and then take a drink of water.” Judges have toritillas and chips to help it go down the hatch, no pun intended, and gallons of milk are on standby to help cool off the jets.
Stephanie said, “My favorite part about cooking green chili is getting the chilies fresh from the farm. We have had our preference of farms over the years. Certain farms are our favorites, and then we try new farms and try to support all of the farms equally. And I think this year it together. Bag them up for the freezer. Yeah, this year it was really fun. The chilies are nice and easy to to bag up and really clean. They did a great job roasting and that’s always a fun experience to hit the farms.”
The Chili & Salsa Showdown champions will be announced Friday at 6:00 p.m.