CLAYTON -- Tammy Parris likes to keep her chili pure -- no beans. And on Sunday, three judges scored it the best in the 14th annual Clayton Club Saloon Chili Cook-off.

"She also won in 2010," said Clayton Club co-owner Steve Barton.

Although Parris' recipe is basically the same as the one she won with at that time, she says she is constantly tweaking it, but only once put beans in it.

"It's not exactly the same. It's close," she says. "I always have to improve it."

The 18 contestants began checking in and plugging in their crockpots filled with cooked chili at 10 a.m. By 11 a.m., the saloon was filled with the aroma of chili and cornbread.

The saloon had provided two sheets of cornbread -- one plain and one jalapeño -- to accompany the chili tasting, and a couple of the participants also brought in cornbread muffins and cornbread pudding.

This year, three judges were armed with new scoring sheets. Tasting was swift and announcements quickly made by Clayton council members Howard Geller and Jim Diaz and Clayton Pioneer publisher Rob Steiner.

"I had hoped to place," said Parris. "When I found I won, it was surreal."

Parris uses tri-tip in her chili and the judges noted her recipe was meaty and spicy.

Taking second place was Renee Stevenson whose beef chili had bacon and black beans.


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Savanna Rike, a newcomer to Clayton and a first-time competitor, walked away with third place. Her chili was made with brisket and pork belly, and contained red chili beans.

About 100 people attended the annual event.

"By 3 p.m. the crockpots were empty and the bread was gone," said Barton. "The crowd was great," he said. "Twenty people came up to me and said, 'This is great fun, you've got to keep doing this.'"

best chili
First Place: Tammy Parris, Concord $300
Second Place: Renee Stevenson, Clayton $200
Third Place: Savanna Rike, Clayton $100