Correction: Story has been updated to correct the event date, April 20.
A blend of hot chili, hot cars, hot music and cold brews, a celebrity chef and four other judges, plus live music set the stage for the Cambria Chamber of Commerce’s 21st annual Chili Cook-Off & Car Show Saturday, April 20.
The dual shows are to surround the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St., in the parking lot to the south and Pinedorado Grounds to the north.
Chili prep starts at 7 a.m., and the entrees must be ready by noon. Public chili tasting runs from noon to 3 p.m.; the five official judges make their rounds at 1 p.m. People’s Choice votes can be cast until 2:30 p.m. Trophies are to be awarded at 3 p.m.
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Tastings of boutique and other beers are from noon to 3 p.m.
Chamber President Mel McColloch said vehicle owners can enter the car show as late as 10 a.m. Saturday, when the car show begins; it runs through 2 p.m., and the People’s Choice trophy is to be awarded at 1:30 p.m. Entries at press deadline ranged from 1928 Model A Fords to sporty 2012 models.
Judging the 13 different chili recipes are:
• Dakota Weiss, Top Chef/Texas contestant and chef at the W hotel in Los Angeles;
• Author and nonprofit event organizer Charmaine Coimbra of Cambria (Weiss is her daughter);
• Marcelle Bakula, Cambria’s 2012 Citizen of the Year;
• Consuelo Macedo, The Cambrian’s Culinary Corner columnist; and
• Marjorie Ott of the Olallieberry Inn (home of award-winning breakfasts) and 2013 president of the county Tourism Business Improvement District board.
Weiss has lots of cred in the chili category, having begun her culinary career in Santa Fe, N.M.; she returned there last fall as a star chef preparing a special luncheon for the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta.
Indeed, “Santa Fe-style chilis (green or red) are one of Dakota’s fave comfort foods,” Coimbra noted in an email Monday, April 15.
As a chili judge, Weiss told her mom, “I’ll be looking for layered flavors that include enough seasoning with a nice kick, but not too spicy. Texture and appearance are additional elements that make an excellent chili.”
Fellow chili devotee Coimbra said, “I know what I’ll look for in chili, after 20 years in Santa Fe … that rich, smoky sauce that comes from quality roasted chilis.”
Weiss will also help judge the 2013 Soupabration, a fundraiser for Pacific Wildlife Care, on Sunday, Oct. 20, at Camp Ocean Pines.
Long-standing rivalries simmer at the cook-off, as nine of the 13 entrants are returning competitors, and at least four of them have won in the past, according to Mary Ann Carson, the chamber’s executive director.
This year’s contestants, from the North Coast unless otherwise noted, include representatives for Community Emergency Response Team, Cambria Window Cleaning (two booths), Jason McDonough of Fresno, 5 Hundy, Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill, T-Rex Chili/Rex Ruiz of Manhattan Beach, Camp Ocean Pines, Sons of American Legion Post No. 432, La Guardia’s Homemade from Paso Robles, West End Bar and Grill, Scenic Coast Termite Control from Templeton, Rotary Club, and San Simeon Beach Bar & Grill.
At press deadline Tuesday, there were 29 entries in the car show, down from the average of 55, according to McColloch. He was contacting entrants from previous years who hadn’t yet entered this year, hoping to find out why they’d opted out.
McColloch said earlier this month, “I have had four calls from friends from the north who will not be coming to our April 20 chamber car show because they do not want to travel Highway 1” between Ragged Point and Cambria, where the road’s surface is rough and loose rocks from a recent chip-seal coating can be kicked up by passing traffic.
“They like to drive down Highway 1, but don’t want their cars’ paint jobs damaged by flying rocks,” he said.
Most of the cars entered by Tuesday were from Cambria, Cayucos or Paso Robles, with two entered from Fresno, and one each from Grover Beach, Avenal, Glendale, Palmdale and Exeter.
Vehicles ranged from a black 1928 Ford Model A and black 1929 Ford Model A pick up (“Any color as long as it’s black,” Henry Ford said) and several circa 1930s vehicles to McColloch’s own 1952 military Jeep, a 1969 Alfa Romeo Giulia II and at least two 2012 cars.