MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Cooks and chili lovers from all over made their way to Myrtle Beach for the 56th Annual World Championship Chili Cook-off.
Sunday was the final day of the “Beach ‘n Chili Fest” competition, and the cooks did not come to play.
Throughout the competition, they made all kinds of chili — like homestyle, verde, salsa, and the final challenge; traditional red.
Myrtle Beach has been the home of the competition for the past three years.
“We’re cooking some great chili here today in this beautiful Myrtle Beach setting here,” said Jim McCusker, a competitor from Philadelphia. “Couldn’t get any better than the beach behind you.”
The annual cook-off was created by the International Chili Society, which was formed in 1967.
After winning local events all over the country, professional chili teams came to Myrtle Beach to be crowned the ultimate chili master for the 2023 season.
“Everyone that’s here today cooking in the world championship had to win another championship to qualify to get here,” said Don Cullum, a competitor from Houston. “So, you’ve got literally world-class cooks that are all cooking today. So, the best chili in the world.”
Cullum said it’s a hobby for him, and to make it fun, he decided to compete against his wife.
“So, we do this as a hobby. My wife and I both retired. So, we travel, we travel the country,” he said. “There’s certain cook-offs we like to make every year. So, we, just a little hobby for us and we compete against each other. It makes it a little bit more fun.”
While some change up their chili recipes, others, like Michael Stewart, stick with the same one for years.
“I’ve been doing this since the mid-80s,” Stewart said. “I can go back probably 15 years and see exactly what I did.”
The cook-off filled the Burroughs and Chapin Pavilion, and hundreds of people got to enjoy all different types of chili.
“Just here on vacation, found that they were having a chili contest on the paper and decided, ‘hey, why not?'” Hilda Edger said. “Let’s go. Really good. A lot of it’s a stiff competition, I think.”
Competitors and spectators all said they’re counting down the days until next year for the nex chili festival.
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Gracie is a multimedia journalist at News 13 and is from Cleveland, Ohio. Gracie joined the team in June 2023 after graduating from the University of Alabama in May. Follow Gracie on Facebook, Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, & read more of her work here.