'May the best chili win'

COSTA MESA — The already spicy 68th Assembly District race will get as hot as a chili pepper this weekend.

The two contenders in the race, Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor and Phu Nguyen, will be among those battling for a title of culinary distinction in the sixth annual Halecrest and Hall of Fame Chili Cook-Off.

"It might be a forecast of what might come in November," Nguyen, a Democrat, said jokingly.

Nguyen said he'll be making his chili with Vietnamese ingredients. He even plans to add fish sauce, a popular condiment that sometimes replaces salt in Vietnamese cuisine.

"Actually, I have never made chili this way, and so it's going to be a fusion of several recipes, and I'll just add some Vietnamese spices to it," he said. "And we will see how it goes. It will be fun."

Mansoor, who was raised in the U.S. by parents who came from Egypt and a Swedish-influenced region of Finland, wouldn't say if specific ingredients from his background would go into his chili.

He is keeping his recipe under wraps until after the contest.

"I hope it'll be original, but the taste buds of the judges are going to have to make that determination," said Mansoor, a Republican.

After hearing about the Costa Mesa community event, the two politicians decided to put politics aside and participate in the cook-off. Mansoor said he has attended past chili cook-offs put on by the Halecrest and Hall of Fame Community Assn.

The mayor said he's even served on the judging panel, but has never before entered the contest.

"It's always nice to win, but I think the main point of the event is to get out and meet everyone in the community and just have a nice day," Mansoor said.

Both Mansoor and Nguyen said they'll be testing their chili to make sure it's just right before it's time to be judged come Sunday.

Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place, and there will also be a People's Choice award based on community votes, according to information provided by the association.

"May the best chili win," Mansoor said.

The sixth annual Chili Cook-Off is scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Halecrest Park, 3107 Killybrook Lane in Costa Mesa. Admission is free.

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