H.B. duo go for four in a row at Chili at the Beach
Call them the chili kings.
Two Huntington Beach men, who have won the last three years of the Chili at the Beach competition, will attempt a fourth victory Saturday and try to break a world record later this year for the largest serving of chili.
Angelo Barriga and Nicholas Fisher, who compete as Chili Royale, have been taking part in the Huntington Beach competition for five years, winning the people’s choice award for the last three. The event, in its ninth year, starts at 11 a.m. on Main Street. General admission at the cook-off is $15.
Last year, the pair added the judge’s choice to their trophies. Barriga said he believes it’s rare a team would earn both the judge’s choice and people’s choice distinctions — the only awards at the annual competition by the beach.
“That just validates that it’s real,” said the 36-year-old. “The judges confirmed our chili was really the best.”
Barriga, who started making chili about seven years ago when he first entered in neighborhood competitions to promote his youth basketball league, said his team’s chili is made of premium meats and dry spices, but the ingredients that makes their recipe distinct are poblano chilis.
“Those are hardly ever used and give the chili a unique flavor,” he said. “You have to roast, skin and de-seed them yourself. You can’t buy them like that. That’s almost seven hours of work.”
The total process for making the 30 gallons of chili takes about 16 hours for Barriga, his wife, Sarah Billen, and Fisher.
Two days before the event, the trio prepares the vegetables and then spends the rest of the time cooking.
Then, during the competition, family — including Barriga’s 1-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son — and friends wear custom T-shirts to market the chili and attract attendees to the Chili Royale booth.
Over the years, Chili Royale has won over not only the taste buds of the community but also sponsors, including several local restaurants, who help purchase the $800 worth of ingredients each year.
“It’s kind of humble beginnings,” Fisher said. “It’s surprising we’ve done so well continuously throughout the year, starting from a couple chili geeks to now when we’ve taken the trophies the last three years.”
Following this year’s competition, Chili Royale hopes to garner worldwide attention as the Guinness Book of World Records holders for the largest serving of chili con carne.
The current record was set in June 2013 by Chris’ Dream Chili Team of North Dakota, which served 248 gallons of chili.
Chili Royale hopes to beat that record by making and serving 250 gallons of chili at an upcoming city event sometime this year, such as Surf City Nights in Downtown Huntington Beach, which take place every Tuesday, or at a public park.
“We wanted to do something that would make us different than all these other chili groups that they have out there, so we can go into a competition not only as previous champions but as Guinness Book of World Records holders,” Barriga said.
In order to achieve the record, Barriga said the chili must be made in the same container it is served in. The team also must pay for the ingredients, equipment and the airfare for a judge to attend.
The equipment for making and serving the chili has caused the team to run into a bit of a snag, which is delaying their attempt at the record.
The team is currently working with food scientists and metal fabricators to see what can be made to cook, weigh and serve the food in.
“A cooking pot that large doesn’t currently exist in the world,” Barriga said. “There’s nothing out there that’s shaped in the way that I can move it to a scale and weigh it.”
Barriga, who works in sales, said that although he enjoys the recognition for his chili, he doesn’t see it as something he’ll ever do professionally.
“I don’t think chili is my complete future,” he said. “I look at this as something to pass on to my kids and our friends’ kids. This is an event that we always looked at to bring our friends together.”
Brittany Woolsey, email@example.com