First Chili Cookoff slated for Saturday

July 14, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Chocolate chili.

No, it's neither a misprint nor an oxymoron.

Instead, chocolate chili will be one of around 40 recipes offered for public tasting at this weekend's first Chili Cookoff in downtown Martinsburg.

Several blocks of Queen Street will be blocked off for the Main Street Martinsburg event, which is slated for Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m.

Other activities will include live music by Lunar Stew Trio, a hot pepper eating contest and, for children, a newspaper throwing contest and a balloon artist. Ice cream and drinks will be offered.


A trolley will be available to take people from Rail Days, an annual event at the Martinsburg Roundhouse Center, to the site of the cookoff.

Brenda Casabona, owner of DeFluri's Fine Chocolate in Martinsburg, is making the chocolate chili.

"It does have chocolate as an ingredient," Casabona said. "It will be hot in terms of spicy, fiery, but not as hot as Chinese mustard."

The dish is not designed to be a sweet, dessert-type of concoction.

"You may not necessarily taste the chocolate per se, but there will be chocolate in it," Casabona said. "The spices and chocolate blend so you have this mellow kick. It doesn't taste bizarre."

Turkey is a part of Casabona's recipe, but she said she also is considering making a vegetarian version.

A tremendous amount of interest has been shown in the cookoff, Casabona said, and Main Street Martinsburg hopes to make it an annual event.

"It gives a lot of people a chance to actually do something in the event," Casabona said.

For $5, visitors may obtain a ballot card, which allows them to taste all of the recipes and vote for their favorite, and some contestants will be selling containers of their chili, Main Street Martinsburg Director Jeff Curtis said.

Nearly everyone has a chili recipe, whether it's a new creation or an old family secret.

"I think people think of chili as this All-American idea," she said.

Various banks will be making chili as a "Battle of the Banks" competition, and Yesteryears, an antique store, plans to offer a tropical chili recipe.

Downtown businesses and restaurants will stay open later than normal during the event.

If you go...

What: Chili Cookoff

When: Saturday, 4-8 p.m.

Where: From Queen Street to Martin Street, Martinsburg, W.Va.

Buying a $5 ballot card allows people to taste all of the entries and vote for their favorite.

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