The fire promises to be especially hot this year with 25 teams in their decorated booths competing for the best tasting chili.
Teams must prepare a minimum of 75 litres of chili with each team having its own distinct flavour.
A one-time cup purchase for $4 from the festival ticket sellers will allow you to go from team to team on the streets sampling the culinary fare and voting for your favourite.
The teams, all from local restaurants, supermarkets, golf courses, organizations and businesses, are competing for the Best Professional, Best Amateur, and the coveted People’s Choice Award which the public votes for.
There is a panel of judges that decides on the best amateur and best professional team. Chefs from Chateau Victoria and The Union Club will be doing some tasting and judging the samples with the winners receiving awards donated by Island Exposures.
The judges mark the chili entries anonymously by numbered entries…even they don’t know whose chili they’re voting on.
Each chili has its own special recipe and ingredients.
Some of the participating restaurants include Pacific Shores Resort and Spa, Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Resort, Old Dutch Inn, Lefty’s, Gary’s Bistro, The Shady Rest, The Rod and Gun and The Beach Club Resort.
The winner of last year’s coveted plaques for Best Professional Chili and Best Presentation was Parksville’s Beach Club Resort.
Chef Eric Edwards from the Cedar Room at Tigh-Na-Mara and his team of culinary professionals are hoping to take home the Best Professional Chili award this year.
He said the kitchen team came up with a few ideas and they chose a recipe from one of the apprentices.
Edwards said he tweaked it a bit and added his magic and they are now making 100 litres of the hearty stew.
“We don’t want to run out,” he admitted.
Although the recipe is top secret, the chef did say it will include some smoked onions, sweet molasses and dark beer.
Asked what makes a good chili, Edwards said some good ground beef and “cooking it a day before so the flavors set.”
For 21 years now chef Edwards has been constantly creating new features to please the palate at the Parksville resort and each year he changes the chili recipe for the event.
He said their chili will include garnishes and your choice of a corn and onion biscuit with roasted peppers or a buttermilk biscuit with cheese from Little Qualicum CheeseWorks.
If you want to dig into some southwest inspired dishes, chili cups can be purchased from one of the four ticket tables located at the entrances to the festival; this enables you to try as many different chilies you like.