11th Annual Milwaukee Chili Bowl Brings the Heat this Sunday
The annual Milwaukee Chili Bowl returns for its 11th year this Sunday, January 29, at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. Dozens of local restaurants and bars will compete for the coveted “Golden Ladle” award, including Mulligan’s Irish Pub and Grill of Franklin, who took home both the “Best Traditional” and “Best Vegetarian” prizes in 2016. O’Lydia’s Bar and Grill, 338 South 1st Street, will also be on hand to defend their “Spiciest” crown, dishing out a shredded chipotle brisket chili topped with hominy and napa cabbage. The Goodwill Culinary Institute’s Café 1919 took honors last year for the most unique concoction. They will back this weekend with a smoked corn and poblano chili as well as a must-be-tried chipotle-glazed, cranberry barbeque pork chili-stuffed doughnut. Other interesting entries include a “Tickle Monster” chili (“a fiery collection of some of Satan’s favorites foods”) from Lighthouse Hospitality, an heirloom smoked sausage/ham/pork/beef three-bean chili from the Smoke Shack, and a “House Bratcho” (bratwurst and chorizo) chili from the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Chili Bowl, presented by milwaukeefood.com, got started back in 2007 at Serb Hall. While about 1,000 people were on hand for the first “Bowl,” last year’s event attracted more than 5,000 people and managed to collect over 2,5000 pounds of food for the Hunger Task Force. The event’s organizer, Andrew Swofford, says that with the Bowl’s diverse participants and prize categories, there is a little something for every palate. “Each year our chefs surprise us more and more with their creative chili recipes,” Swofford told Around MKE. “Guests will be able to sample traditional and spicy chili, along with specialty chili like chicken, alligator, lamb, brisket, sweet potato, bratwurst, and vegetarian. Last year we had more than 50 varieties.” As for his own personal tastes, Swofford tents towards the simple and lean. “I love my chili with ground turkey, lots of beans,” he says. “I cook it slow and low.”
The 11th Annual Milwaukee Chili Bowl is Sunday, January 29. General admission tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door and get you in between noon and 5:00 pm and include eight chili samples (3 oz. each or about 1.5 lbs. total), soft pretzel bites from Milwaukee Pretzel Company, and a $10 Potawatomi Fire Keepers Reward Play card. A VIP ticket is $40 in advance or $45 at the door and gets you in an hour early and includes a free t-shirt. Anyone donating two non-perishable food items will be given two bonus chili samples. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.mkechilibowl.com.