30 amateur chefs competing in the 10th Annual Brooklyn Chili Takedown put on their Sunday's best aprons for a warming afternoon of slowly simmered meats, beans, and hot peppers at the Bellhouse in Gowanus. Matt Timms, the creator of the cult cooking competition, proclaims the Takedown to be "America's most important food competition."
Timms managed to bring together an eclectic group of creative chefs bound together by a line of sternos and aluminum steam trays. Within a stretch of ten feet, I was served by a tattoo covered biker, a proud Puerto Rican mother, and an older Jewish couple. Fortunately, their offerings were just as varied; there were chilis featuring smoked short ribs and corn bread toppings as well as some with less traditional ingredients like coconut milk, fish sauce, and wasabi.
Prize-winner Monty Isom flaunted the fact that the wild venison featured in his chili was "bow hunted on Friday, in the pot on Saturday, and in our stomachs on Sunday." Next in line, Jimi Daly and Brian Gittleman informed us that they "hunted" their brisket from Key Food. The standout of the day was Melissa Vondechaar's Atomic Korea Chili Bath, a stewed bulgogi spiked with a homemade ghost chili sauce that made your pupils dilate. Even though I was sweating beads, I could not stop myself from going back for seconds and thirds.
3rd: Monty's Bitchin' Panty Removing Fertility Chili, Monty Isom
2nd: 4 Chili Chimichurri with Frito and Onion Crunch, Basil Lee and Kevin Stafford
1st: Jimmy's Vegan* Pork Chili (* the Cow was Vegan), Jimmy Katsas
4th: Porkin' Pernily, Drew Kane
3rd: PA Dutch Con Carne, Mike O'Neill and Kristine Schmidt
2nd: Steve's Ode to Bob's Chili, Steve Moncada and Jillian Gaeta
1st: Melissa's Atomic Korea Chili Bath, Melissa Vondechaar