San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Records broken at Atenas chili cook off

By Judy Timson | Special to the Tico Times

On the morning of Feb. 10, more than 100 volunteers arrived at Quinta Roma Vista in Atenas, a park-like setting that suits large events. This year’s 27 chili-making teams began setting up. Judges checked in. The Chili Queen and entertainment arrived. Sponsors set up their booths. The beer tent was ready to go. Hot dogs were on the grill. The aroma from 27 pots of home-cooked chili filled the air. And that was all before the event had even started.  

At 11 a.m. when the gates opened, new records were about to be set.

There was a record turnout – more than 1,500 people attended. Tico chili cooks, judges and attendants also outnumbered previous years. The community got involved through corporate sponsorships, personal donations from friends and families and a “Coins for Kids” program, in which people saved their coins and dropped them at the event.

What drives this charity event? The kids do! There is a real need for support at Hogar de Vida, a local children’s home founded by Tim & Dena Stromstad in 1995. Thirty-five Costa Rican children live on this property, aged ten and younger. Many of these children have been abandoned or abused, and Hogar de Vida meets their needs by offering a stable home, good nutrition, clothing, education, authority figures and spiritual training. Due to a recent break-in on the Hogar de Vida property, safety had become the top priority. Chili Cook-Off proceeds will help lay the foundation for a safer and more secure property.  

And just how much money did this community raise to support Hogar de Vida? A whopping $20,000! This amount quadrupled over last year’s donation to Hogar. And now for the best news: on Monday, Feb. 18, barely a week after the Chili Cook-Off, the money was already being put to use for a newly constructed security wall at Hogar de Vida. 

It was a fun-filled, exciting and memorable day, for which so many show up with open hearts and open pocketbooks.  What started in 2006 by Kay and Tom Costello, in their small restaurant (Kay’s Gringo Postres), has grown beyond many of our expectations or hopes. It was a great day all the way around.

Visit our website for additional updates at – and stay tuned as we begin to plan for the 2014 Atenas Charity Chili Cook Off.


1st Place – Jalapenos

2nd Place – Maria’s Texas Chili

3rd Place – South of the “South of the Border”

4th Place – Costa Rica Chicas

5th Place – Sperone

6th Place – Vamos Gourmet Catering and International Cuisine

Vegetarian – Chesapeake Chili Champs

Showmanship 1st Place – Roca Caliente

Showmanship Honorable Mention – Jalapenos

Showmanship Honorable Mention – Hot Meat

People’s Choice – eMi (Engineering Ministries International)

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