Annual Chili Cook-off gearing up

By Tina Montgomery

A savory Minden tradition is returning for the 2023 Minden Auction Benefiting St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

The 32nd annual Minden St. Jude Chili Cook-off takes place on Saturday, February 11 at the Minden Civic Center.

Randy Stevenson, who is now in his 6th year coordinating the chili cook-off, said about 20 participants have signed up so far. 

“We typically get about 30 to 35 each year,” he said.

Last year chili lovers raised $8,200 from the sale of the tasting cups offered despite the stormy weather that day; that’s about 1,640 chili tasting cups sold. 

“We were cooking in a downpour which was not fun at all. We had to cancel the bands and get everything broken down but we went forward and still cooked,” Stevenson said. 

Tasting cups will be sold to the public throughout the event for $5 each.

Stevenson hopes to raise more money this year.

“My goal this year is $10,000, it always has been. A lot of it is dependent on the weather and the number of tasting cups sold. We’ll also have some concessions set up outside,” he said.

The cook-off is no longer sanctioned by CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International). 

“This is strictly a hometown event now,” Stevenson said. “We used to be with CASI but we didn’t raise as much money. They were more concerned about the cooks who came from out of state rather than fundraising. When we decided to bring everything centered in Minden we raised about 3 times as much money even though we didn’t have as many cooks.” 

Although no longer sanctioned, the cook-off will be conducted under CASI rules. Chili must be cooked from scratch on site the day of the cook-off. All chili must be prepared in the open. Commercial chili powder is permissible, but complete commercial chili mixes (just add meat) are not permissible. No fillers like beans, macaroni, rice, hominy, or other similar ingredients are permitted. Cooks must prepare and cook in a sanitary manner.

Cooks who want to showcase their chili recipes can still pre-register online at , or register at sign in the day of the cook-off. The entry fee is $30, which should be paid by cash or check (cash preferred). Participants can begin setting up on Friday, February 10, at 4 p.m. Set up spots cannot be reserved and are arranged on a first come, first serve basis. Categories for the cook-off include Official Judging, People’s Choice Award and Best in Show.

Chili enthusiasts will also enjoy musical entertainment throughout the day. 

“We have two bands,” Stevenson said. “Starting at 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. is Pat Mason & the Bayou Boogie Band. They’re a zydeco band out of Shreveport that’s played for two years or so and they’re really good. We also have local Minden band Flight Delay from 1 until 3 p.m. They’ve played for the last 3 or 4 years.”

Sponsors for this year’s cook-off are: Mike’s Hometown Spirits (Title Sponsor), Minden Family Dental (Partner Sponsor), Wimberly Agency, Dixie Overland Construction, Passages Hospice, Res-Com Washing & Gutter Services LLC, KASO/KBEF Radio, Southern Tire Mart and Louisiana CAT.

For registration and further information, go to . Questions can also be emailed to . General information for the public can be found on the Facebook page Minden St. Jude Chili Cook-off. 

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