Don't ask good chili cooks to tell you their secrets.
But if you do, and you can eek out answers, don't be surprised if those secrets are wildly different.
"It's kind of anything goes," chili cook Arlene Porteus said about the Soroco Homecoming Chili Cook-off.
Take, for instance, the two reigning champions in the red and green chili varieties.
Porteus, who has won various awards for her red chili, has one releasable secret:
"I don't use any fresh ingredients," she said.
She uses canned tomato sauce, hamburger meat, beans and spices. It's with the spices that she gets creative.
On the other hand, George Trujillo, reigning champion in the green chili category, needs two full days to prepare his chili.
He makes a special trip to Grand Junction to buy his fresh roasted chilies, then later chops and cooks only fresh ingredients for hours.
He uses a family recipe from his mother, who had lots of practice, cooking for eight children, Trujillo said. But he has added his own touches.
"It's kind of like personalities," Porteus said about the different chilies. "Everybody's is different."
The event typically brings out a few dozen chili cooks. Last year, more than 450 people showed up for the tasting. Tasters get a big bowl that they can fill with 1/3-cup samples from every chili cook.
"If you taste them all, it's about 10 cups of chili," Porteus said. Needless to say, not many people make it through all of the chilies.
Anyone can participate in the chili cook-off, which is sponsored by the Soroco Ram Fans Booster Club. Participants can register ahead of time, or just bring three to five gallons of their favorite heated chili that night. There is no fee to enter a chili.
The two categories are red and green, but people can use whatever types of meats, from road kill to buffalo, and beans and other ingredients they want.
All chilies have a name. Some well-remembered ones are "Ring of Fire chili," which was especially hot; "Toponas Temptation;" "Hot Lunch chili," which came from the Soroco cafeteria; and even the Wendy's restaurant's own chili.
Soroco Principal James Chamberlin's wife makes the "Principal's Chili" each year, which Chamberlin joked could be called "Principal's Revenge."
Sometimes soups -- the "non-chilis" -- are admitted.
And costumes are always welcomed. Porteus divides her time between cooking a lot of good chili and finding the perfect costume to wear.
One year she dressed up in her "dumb blonde" outfit, complete with leopard skin bow and cutesy clothes, and made "dumb blonde chili," which was potato soup.
There are no judges, but all people tasting the chilies get to vote for their favorites. Taster's choice awards are handed out for best chilies, as well as best costume.
But everyone involved will say that the chili cook-off means a lot more than a chance to taste chili -- it's a chance for the community to gather together.
All of the funds raised from the $3 fee to taste go to the Soroco booster club. The Routt County Republicans are providing dessert -- 30 galloons of ice crea -- and the local Democrats are providing beverages.
The Soroco Homecoming Chili Cook-off is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 in the Soroco High School commons. The $3 charge includes a bottomless bowl of chili, drink and dessert. All high school students eat free. For more information, call Arlene Porteus at 638-4496.