Did anybody see Bobby Flay’s Throwdown last night with two-time chili cook-off world champion Cindy Reed Wilkins? Wow!
Her story is actually pretty inspirational—she's the Lance Armstrong of the chili cook-off world. Back in 1992 she won her first Terlingua International Chili Championship Cook-off. Then two months after her win she had a stroke. But after rehabilitation she returned the next year to Terlingua and won again—a miliestone on a couple of fronts as she was not only the first person to win it twice but she was the first to win it back to back. Over her 20-year career she’s won over 300 cook-offs in all, pretty impressive. So who does New Yorker Bobby Flay think he is challenging this woman to a cook-off?
They show him in his Food Network test kitchen coming up with his own recipe and I was actually impressed. While Cindy uses powdered spices (which is common in the chili cook-off world—go to Penzeys and you’ll see them selling a slew of champions’ secret spice blends), Bobby went the fresh route. Watching him make his chili reminded me of how I make mine. The big chunks of beef, the chili slurry, the chocolate. And his results also looked like mine, thick and dark, unlike Cindy’s which was gravier and brighter. Both used tomatoes, which I was always taught is a no-no, but who’s to argue with a champion? I also noticed neither used masa (or at least didn’t admit it), which I found interesting. Wick Fowler, the patron saint of Terlingua is big on masa so I’m curious if Cindy secretly mixes some into her pot.
I was laughing watching Bobby sweat in the Houston heat (and the show was filmed in May which is one of the milder months on the calendar) while Cindy stayed cool as iced tea stirring her chili, confident she was the best. Her friends’ reactions to his chili were mixed, some loved it, some didn’t. But the judges decided that while the two pots were noticeably different, they were both outstanding and deemed the cook-off a tie. Drats! I really wanted Cindy to whip Bobby’s New York ego, but I have to admit, his chili looked good. And a lot like mine. He also knows how to cook and he’s married to a Texan, so perhaps his Texas Red isn’t all that bad.
On the Food Network site they have recipes from both Cindy and Bobby and I love that Cindy offers one for queso made with Rotel. Yep, she’s a Texan.
Did anybody see this? What did you think?
Monday, November 13, 2006
Posted by Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) at 10:34 AM