Bang Nguyen

Here are the only two things you really need to know about about the Weekly‘s Celebrity Chef Chili Cook-Off: 1.) The weather this Saturday afternoon is supposed to be 70 degrees and sunny (according to my mostly reliable iPhone weather app), and 2.) you’ll never eat a higher quality or volume of chili in one afternoon. 

From noon to 4pm on Sat at the Tin Panther (937 Woodward St, 817-720-6868), you can experience the gluttonous bliss of gorging on 20 or so different takes on our official state delicacy prepared by the very best chefs in our local culinary cannon. 

Don’t turn the page! This column is not just 500 words of me selling out to the ad side of the Weekly’s building. I’ve been to every single one of these events, and I can personally vouch for the outstanding food and good times. I look forward to this weekend more than Taco Fest and the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival combined. I imagine this is what John Wayne’s idea of heaven looks like – a Bacchanalian meat orgy in which red sauce flows like whiskey. And so does whiskey. 

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This year’s slate of competitors features some old favorites and new blood. Last year’s big winner, Chef Juan Rodriguez of Magdalena’s Kitchen, is returning to defend his title. The rest of the one-pot gladiators will also include Kyle Baker of Bird Cafe, Clint Connaway of Texas Republic, University Pub’s Bobby Corbin, Briant Dukes of The Purple Frog, Chris Fersch of Billy Bob’s Texas, Savor Culinary Service’s Kevin Fuller, David Hollister of Gas Monkey Bar & Grill, Chris Magallanes of Panther City BBQ, Tokyo Cafe’s Kevin Martinez, Ben Merritt of Fixture FW, Bistro 1030’s Steve Mitchell, Stefon Rishel of soon-to-be-opened Wishbone & Flynt, John Sanford of BBQ on the Brazos, Tarrant Area Food Bank’s Manuel Vasquez, and this year’s dark-horse entry, Mark Weger of The Chat Room Pub. We’ll be adding competitors to this list right up until the thing starts, so be sure to follow the Facebook event for updates.

You’ll be able to vote on the winner, and a panel of judges will also crown their choice for best in show. The judges will include: Zest 817’s Ian Connally; Fort Worth Weekly associate editor and Zest’s editor-in-chief, Eric Griffey (who I happen to know has an earth-shattering orgasm every time he reads his name in print); Culture Map and Fort Worth Magazine contributor Malcolm Mayhew; 360 West Magazine staffer and Texas Highways contributing editor June Naylor, and noted pop-up chef Hao Tran. 

Casey Thompson will be playing tunes all afternoon, and a portion of your $20 advance ticket will be donated to Cook Children’s. Be sure to use the hashtag #chili19, so we can all compare before and after pictures. 

You won’t need to eat for a week after this event, so just think of it as a New Age diet – the Eat as Much Chili as You Can and Drink a Lot diet is all the rage these days.