Turns out, people really like beans and slow-cooked meats in huge vats, because the turnout for yesterday's Chili Takedown at Union Pool in Williamsburg was insane. Lines out the door as the event's fearless leader Matt Timms—OK, he looked a bit fearful of the crowds—reminded people to keep moving. "You came here to eat chili, so if I see you stopping and socializing, you are not doing your job. Oh yeah, and keep moving! Eat chili and move!"
Upon arriving and paying the $10, you were handed a little plastic cup, spoon, and paper ballot. Over thirty entries lined the periphery of the bar's back room, including "Whore Mel" with polenta croutons from Theo Peck, "Recession Chili" with ham hocks, spare ribs, and a candied squash seed garnish from Brooklyn cook-off queen Cathy Erway, and chili pockets from the Blondie & Brownie gals (what a Hot Pocket could be).
The little white ballots picked the following for People's Choice Awards:
1. Theo Peck (#8)
2. Steve Cash (#31)
3. Nick Suarez (#7)
And secret judges milled about (Gabriella Gershenson, TONY's food editor and Keith Wagstaff of The Feedbag) to chose the following for the "judged" categories:
1. Anne Garrett + Katie Feola (#11)
2. Nick Suarez (#7)
3. Theo Peck (#18)
Update: Cathy Erway of Not Eating Out in New York just posted her recipe for Recession Chili. It didn't win anything, but was damn good.