Chili Dilly team at last year’s cook off

Lake Highlands hasn’t assembled a competitive student barbecue team yet, but the parent ranks are full of competitive cooks, and they’ll prove it Jan. 27th at the 3rd Annual Chili Cook Off sponsored by the Lake Highlands Junior High PTA.

The event is strictly adults-only since Oak Highlands Brewery is hosting and alcohol figures prominently in the party plans, and more attendees are expected than at last year’s street party near the school.

Friends aware of this writer’s culinary limitations will chuckle to hear I’m on tap to judge again, but I’ll be coached by Lonnie Jordan, head coach of the Lake Highlands High School football team and by Ted Hume, twice winner of the world-famous cook off at Terlingua. Also judging will be Andrew Hamilton, a member of Ted’s Terlingua team, Frank Gomez, winner of the Wallace Elementary cook off, and Carrie Breedlove, LHJH principal.

While we tasted the entries last year, Hume gave me a few tips on creating a great pot of chili.

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“Use good meat and fresh [powdered] spices,” Hume told me, warning me about rookie mistakes like seasoning before cooking and boiling instead of simmering.

“And I keep a lid on it. You lose flavor with the steam.”

The best Texas competitions forbid beans in the chili, but Ted doesn’t mind them. He does, though, say pouring beer inside the pot is a mistake.

“Ever been to a party, and the next day there’s a stale beer smell?” Enough said.

Ten teams have signed up to compete, and they’ll have decorated booths, crazy costumes and themes like Bandersnatch, Grateful Dead, Darn Tootin’ and Dances With Wolf Brand.

Advance tickets are available for $35 on the LHJH PTA website until 4 p.m. tomorrow, then they go up to $45. Limited t-shirts and cups will be available, and “sign and go” parties will be available for a donation. Funds raised will benefit student programs.

The Chili Cook Off is Sunday, Jan. 27th from 3-6 at Oak Highlands Brewery, 10484 Brockwood near Royal Lane and LBJ.