If you go
What: North Routt Chili Cook-off
When: 3 to 6 p.m. May 3 (2 p.m. for competitors)
Where: Glen Eden Family Restaurant & Tavern, 54737 Routt County Road 129
Cost: $10 a person; children younger than 5 are free
Steamboat Springs If you want your name engraved on a cup in the North Routt Chili Cook-off - twice - you could get up at 4 a.m. to peel chilies for the recipe passed down to you from your mother. You also could decide to enter a few days before the contest and slap a tasty dessert together.
Both strategies are tried and true. George Trujillo has employed the first to make his two-time-champion green chili. Lisa Larkin has employed the second in her two consecutive dessert contest victories. The cook-off is May 3, so competitors still have time to form a plan.
Larkin, who lives between Clark and Steamboat Springs, has won with truffles and won with a trifle.
"The things that come out really well are things you don't plan as well," she said. "You kind of throw them together at the last minute and put a lot of different stuff in them and just see what works."
She did chocolate raspberry truffles in 2007 and a berry, pudding and pound cake trifle in 2008. Larkin said she hadn't decided whether to enter this year.
Trujillo, of Yampa, wakes before dawn to peel his green chilies. He uses his mother's recipe, modifying it only by adding pork. Trujillo took a year off from the North Routt competition last year. He frequently takes trophies at Clark and Steamboat Springs contests.
"The North Routt (cook-off) is one of the best ones there is, and it has been the whole time," Trujillo said. This is the cook-off's seventh year.
Last year, Trujillo took his green chili to a cook-off in Superior, where the winner qualified for a national contest. He said he placed about fifth and added that the chili at that contest did not impress him.
"If the nationals are what I ran into in Superior : anybody up here is better than the big places," Trujillo said. "To me, theirs was horrible and their chilies came from a can, according to the newspaper."
He said he probably would compete in this year's contest.
If Larkin, Trujillo or another two-time winner takes the top slot again, that'll be the first three-peat of the contest, organizer Chris King said. Proceeds from the cook-off benefit the North Routt Preschool and North Routt Community Charter School.
King, who works at the Clark Store, said he hoped for 70 competitors across four categories this year. The contest typically draws about 45, he said. People can make red or green chili, a soup for the "other" category or a dessert. The contest is from about 2 to 6 p.m. at the Glen Eden Family Restaurant & Tavern. Competitors can sign up or show up.
"In North Routt, it's kind of hard to nail anybody down without a warrant, so we gratefully accept entrants at the door," King said.
The winners will be immortalized in metal.
"There is a traveling trophy for every category, a loving cup, per se, and you get to have your name added to it," King said. "We started to be a lot like the Stanley Cup. But we're only about 85 years out, so it's going to take a while to build."
Participants must provide 6 quarts or 40 servings of their dish, King said. He has entered red chili for the past six years and has never won. After spending an hour and a half glazing and caramelizing onions last year, King said he is frustrated.
"With all the blood, sweat, tears and beer and not placing, I'm going to go to 'other,'" he said, refusing to say what kind of dish he planned.
Organizers want competitors to name their dishes this year, King said.
"We're not going to allow first names like Billy's Butt Burner Green, but we'll allow things like, Long Gulch Beans was a winner in 'other.' : We've had various names," he said. "The more fun, the better."
King invited folks to come compete or just enjoy the taste fest.
"It's a hoot," he said, advising people to wear stretchy pants.