San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Chili championship was a hot affair in Atenas

Fourteen types of chili ranging from hot to hottest competed in Kay Costello’s fifth annual chili championship Feb. 13. More than 600 steel-stomached guests showed up at Quinta Roma Vista in the western Central Valley town of Atenas to test, taste and cast their bean votes for their favorite recipe.

Winner of both the popular vote and the judges’ choice was Bill Cook, a newcomer to Costa Rica from the U.S. state of Florida, whose 5.5 gallons of middling-hot chili included whatever he thought would add to the taste. Bill assured us that all ingredients are locally available, and is now trying to remember how he made it for those admirers who asked for the recipe.

This year’s event also included “Chili Queen” Katia Sánchez, a lovely young neighbor from San José Norte de Atenas who brightened up the party wearing a tiara on her 10-gallon hat.

Although it will take a while to tally up how much money was raised for Hogar de Vida, a Child Welfare Office (PANI) sponsored shelter for children in Atenas, the contest earned enough funds to provide lots of extras for the abandoned or abused kids who live in the home on a temporary or permanent basis.

At the end of the day, an exhausted but pleased Kay said next year’s chili championship will be even bigger.

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