Chili Cook Off

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Another Chili Cook-Off For the Record Books

“My chili is better than your chili, but mmm! Yours is pretty good too!” was the theme of the day at the 8th Annual Chili Cook Off. Bocas’ finest came out to the Acqua Sports Bar in Las Cabañas to show everyone what chili is all about. But what is chili really all about? Is it about the spice? Is it about the beans? I can’t help but wonder what 19th century cowboys might think…

“There are no beans in Texas chili. The cowboys used to drive cattle and they’d eat beans three meals a day. So, when they’d get to San Antonio [Texas, USA], the last thing they wanted was another damn bean,” says JB Seligman, chili cook-off organizer extraordinaire and member of team Red Hot Chili Peckers.

Beans or no beans, this is the drill: teams are formed and they arrive at 9 am to cook ten pounds of their own interpretation of chili (with everything being cooked on site). The public is then invited to come and taste whatever rainbow of Bocas chili that emerges. The chili fans pay an entrance fee and are given a cup, a spoon, a napkin and a score card. These people will make their rounds tasting and judging everyone’s chili and will ultimately be the ones who decide who deserves the island chili bragging rights.

This beloved tradition was the brainchild of John Lang and organized alongside Texas cowboy JB Seligman himself. Bocas veterans will all agree: it’s always been a good time. After all, it’s the thing to do in September when the weather is nice.

Well, the weather was indeed nice and the chili was flowing on Sunday the 22nd of September when the team Hot Chili Chikas took home the first place prize at the 8th annual Chili Cook-Off. Congrats ladies! Second place went to Los Pescadores Rip Tide and third place to Toro Loco. Honorable mention goes out to those Crazy Tequila Nurses and Ben, who made his chili team the only solo mission of the day. Bravo to all teams who came out and got their chili on!

Big thanks to local rockers Bad Monkey for providing the southern-fried chili jams, Ricardo for being booth #14 and hosting the event and most of all, all those who participated in the fun! In chili, there are no losers; only a bunch of thirsty, sweaty winners.


The Bocas Breeze is a digital and print newspaper proudly serving the Bocas del Toro community since 2004; reporting news, advertising local businesses and promoting tourism in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

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