Surf and chili: H.B. welcomes cook-off

On the chili cook-off circuit, Craig Brown's family goes by the team name LBL Shenanigans — an allusion to the jokes played on one another and the initials of the maiden and paternal names of his family.

Their chili, however, is serious business.

Brown, 43, and his family are looking to take their prize-winning chili to the sixth annual Surf City Chili at the Beach competition in hopes of walking away with $500 and a plaque.

About 20 teams will be vying for first place during Saturday's chili cook-off in downtown Huntington Beach, according to Huntington Beach Business Improvement District manager Susan Welfringer. Entertainment on three performance stages will include a set from local ska band The Originalites. And for the first time, a Ferris wheel will be available for guests to ride, Welfringer said.

Main Street from the pier to Orange Avenue and Fifth Street from Pacific Coast Highway to Walnut Avenue will be closed off for the event.

Event proceeds will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Huntington Valley.

For the price of a ticket — $10 online and $15 the day of — the public will get a chance to taste chili variations and vote on the winner of the people's choice award, while a panel of four judges, including Beef Palace owner Calvin Free, will choose the top winner, Welfringer said.

Brown's family, from Orange, won first place in a chili contest in August and competed in the Tustin Street Fair cook-off June 2, he said. It will be their first time entering the Surf City cook-off.

The Shenanigans are planning on cooking and serving 30 gallons of their chili Saturday. Brown learned from the Tustin cook-off to make more chili after running out an hour before the rest of the teams, he said.

Though Brown and a group of about 30 friends and family compete in various chili contests, the competitions are more about bonding time with his family.

"There's my grandfather, father, me, my kids, sister and aunts and uncles," he said. "It's the way we get four generations together — by making chili, having a good time and enjoying one another."

Brown said not all of his relatives are Orange County-based. His sister is flying in from Oregon while his aunts and uncles are coming in from Arizona.

Every member of the family participates in one way or another, whether it's chopping meat, pureeing vegetables or stirring the pot, Brown said.

"Men have always found peace around a fire pit," he said. "With our family, we do it around a fire pit, a barbecue, a kettle, you name it. It brings everybody together."

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