Despite the threat of rain, the turnout for Great Leap's Fourth Annual Back Alley Chili Cook-Off was as high as ever, filling Great Leap Brewing's Original #6 location to capacity.

Thirteen plucky contestants presented their best chili recipes to a hungry crowd of Great Leap fans. Among the very diverse chili recipes, highlights included a venison chili from the team behind Rager Pie, a smoky steak chili from the 京A boys, and an incredibly spicy Haitian chili featuring chilies from Guangxi and Sichuan pepper (I see now why the beer is so important).

I was lucky enough to be one of the guest judges, and after much beer-fuelled deliberation we decided to give the top spot in the Judges Choice category to chef Jordan Silva and Jessi Marquart from Eudora Station. Jordan is originally from Texas and his Texas-style braised beef chili served over chunks of moist, homemade corn bread captured our craving for this classic dish.

The People's Choice Award went to Charlie Wells, whose chili incorporated rye whiskey and black molasses from Sichuan for a lingering kick. This one was a bit too sweet for me, but the overall texture and flavor were pretty great, especially considering many of the chili cooks are amateurs doing this in their spare time. Andy Horowitz of Andy's Craft Sausages took second place with a smoky chili featuring local smoked wild boar.

If you missed out this year and reckon your homemade offerings could do better, you've got a full 12 months to start practicing your recipe!

More stories by this author here.

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Photos: Garry Tindall, Tom Arnstein

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