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Chili cookoff heats up family rivalry

By Shannon Ballard Photojournalist: Jarad Mazurek - 6:52 PM July 4, 2014

The craft of making chili is not rocket science nor is it a mystery, but Ariel Burr would say it is an art.

“I cook it with love and secret ingredients. Those can’t be divulged,” Burr said.

The competition was stiff Friday at the chili cookoff in Downtown Anchorage. For Burr, there was also family rivalry.

Her grandmother was the first to ever win a chili cookoff in Alaska and the tradition was passed on. At the Friday event, she pointed out aunts, uncles, her mother and other family members at the competition.

It all started with grandma’s recipe.

“It’s real nostalgic for us,” Burr said.

Now they’re all taking their own spin, trying to be number one.

“I see burnt pieces in there. You gonna serve that to the judges?” Burr asked her uncle Bill Burke.

“It’s not burnt, it’s charred,” Bill Burke responded.

Judges looked at fragrance, aroma, richness, and texture, according to cookoff organizers.

The winner qualifies for the world chili cookoff in November. Burr has never placed, but she hoped this would be here year.

“We’re tough competition,” her uncle John Burke teased. He ended up winning the green chili competition.

All kidding aside, this cooking clan is grateful for every Fourth of July. It’s a chance to continue tradition and celebrate together.

The winner of the cookoff goes home with $600. But more importantly, the event raised about $3,000 for autism research in Alaska.

Chili cook off results:

Green chili: 

  1. John Burke
  2. Tim Burr
  3. Bill Johnson

Red Chili:

  1. Scott Wasmer
  2. Bill Johnson
  3. Vicki Wolfe


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