We spent the past weekend in North Conway, NH. North Conway is a lovely little place in the White Mountain region of the state. We were up there for their annual Chilly Chili Stroll, running the judging for the professional chef’s division of the Stroll.
We got involved with this event a few years ago, when they contacted us about adding an ICS category to their annual cook off. We did the ICS cook off for two years. It was fun, but the Chamber of Commerce (who organize the event) decided they wanted to concentrate their efforts on promoting local businesses, and they dropped the ICS event. It was disappointing, but I understand their point.
At any rate, the next year, they contacted us again and asked if we might be interested in coming up and doing the judging for the professional chef division of the Chili Stroll. They do have a People’s Choice part, as well, which gives some of the non-profit service organizations the chance to get themselves out there for the public to see- and taste chili! And, of course, the professional division is for the chefs from local restaurants to cook some nice chili and cornbread, and get their restaurants some publicity.
It’s a fun event, and we enjoy doing it. We run it just like we would an ICS event- blind judging by invited judges and no one knows who the winner is until we tally everything up. Our judges this year included several trained chefs, a certified barbecue judge, media people, and folks from the community. It’s always a good group and they take the judging very seriously. It was a good event again.
One of the reasons I like this one is that they do the judging for the chili in the morning, and since there are only two categories, we are done early. We had the judges go to the different booths to taste the cornbread, so that wasn’t blind judged, but we didn’t really think about that much beforehand. Next year, we may try to figure out how to do that. And we had a best decorated display award, as well. Still, we were done in time to get back to the hotel for a little down time before the awards ceremony.
We do enjoy this weekend. Everyone at the Chamber of Commerce is so very nice, and we’ve become friends. We look forward to seeing them every year. Good people, good place, good fun- what more could you ask of a weekend away?
The mountain region is a very pretty part of the state. The highest peaks are living up to their name of White Mountains. There is snow in the valley, but not as much as we have down here in the “south”. It was cold, but Saturday was bright and sunny with no wind, so the cold didn’t feel too bad. We drove past the lakes both coming and going. There are a lot of icehouses out there this year. It’s been good and cold, so I suppose the ice is nice and frozen for the hardier fishermen. We also drive by a lake or pond where they have dogsled races, so we get to see them running the sleds.
All in all, it is a really nice weekend, and we look forward to next year.
(The picture is Mounts Jefferson, Clay, and Washington from Mount Tom on the Appalachian Mountain Club site (www.outdoors.gov). Photo by Pete Ingraham.)
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