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West Sacramento Chili Cook-off c/o Our Lady of Grace School 1990 Linden Road West Sacramento, CA 95691

The Chili Cook-off is the place to showcase your skills. We want to show the region, the state and the country the top notch dining experience Sacramento has to offer while supporting a great cause.

All proceeds from this fun-filled 4-hour cook-off event (think live music, local breweries, local wineries, great food) will be donated to the Our Lady of Grace School (a 501c3 charity).  If your restaurant uses fresh, local ingredients and you’re interested in competing in Sacramento’s premier chili cook-off event, please fill out the application below.

Some quick points:

  • 🌶 The event will be held (tentatively) on a Saturday, November 17, 2018, at Ace of Spades from 6-10 p.m.
  • 🌶 We’re expecting an attendance of 500 chili loving, hungry people to attend this event. Each attendee will be served with many 3-ounce servings of chili they can eat. Be prepared. 
  • 🌶 There is no cost to compete. 
  • 🌶 You’ll be serving up chili samples to all attendees (3-ounce serving can include toppings)
  • 🌶 You will be cooking up great chili in an off the hook location!
  • 🌶 We will have an official panel judging the cook-off as well as a People’s Choice 🏆 winner decided by event attendees.
  • 🌶 There is no fee for restaurants to compete in the Chili Cook-off. We provide the crowd, signage, fun times (and libations) you provide the donation of the food to be cooked :)
  • 🌶 While we’d love to have every awesome restaurant in the Sacramento compete, we have limited spots available for the competition. This form is to help us gauge interest in who wants to be a part of this event.
  • 🌶 We’ll be choosing 15 of the Sacramento area's restaurants that sign up to participate. 

Chili competitors are limited to restaurants, caterers, food truck operators and professional chefs. Due to limited space, not all applicants will be selected to compete. Competitors will be notified at least 3 weeks before the event. 

Any questions, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you! After you fill out the form, we will confirm receipt of the application. More event details and updates will be provided as the event date nears.

Thank you for your interest in being a competitor in the River City Chili Cook-off. Due to limited space, the competition is open to restaurants, caterers, food truck operators, and professional chefs.

This form is broken into 3 sections. Please fill out the form completely.


If you have any questions, please contact Michael or Angela.


We reserve the right to select 

Please fill out the following contact information. 


Please continue to page 2 to provide information about your chili.


Please continue to page 3 for the rules and regulations. 

General Information

  1. The cook-off will be held at Ace of Spades in midtown Sacramento on November 17, 2018 (tentative).
  2. We expect 500 guests.
  3. There will be a VIP hour from 6:00-7:00 p.m. (100 guest) with general admission starting at 7 p.m.
  4. Cheftestant registration is between 3:30 - 4:00 p.m. Please be on time.
  5. There is a mandatory Cheftestant meeting with the chief scorekeeper at 4:15 p.m. to review rules. Don’t miss it.
  6. All chili must be ready for the judge's no later than 5:00 p.m., so don’t be late. 
  7. Due to limited space, we ask that Cheftestant bring one (1), no more than two (2) assistants to the event.
  8. Cheftestants are donating their chili to the River City Chili Cook-off for consumption. 
  9. Cheftestants are expected to dispense their chili to attendees from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Leaving early, can result in disqualification.
  10. River City Chili Cook-Off will provide 3 oz soufflé cups and spoons for tasting. We suggest a 2 oz serving.


Cheftestant Stations

  1. River City Chili Cook-Off will provide a 8x10 framed sign with you competitor information, spiciness rating, allergens, and how to vote for the People’s Choice Award.
  2. Cheftestants will be assigned a 3’x6’ station with a table cloth and limited electrical hook-ups.
  3. The event will be held indoors so no outdoor cooking equipment will be permitted. 
  4. Each Cheftestant must supply all cooking equipment. 
  5. Cheftestant may bring portable, electric slow cookers (Crockpot) and hot plates. We have limited electrical outlets available for your use.
  6. Cheftestant may also bring chafing dishes (electric or Sterno fuel). 
  7. Cheftestants are encouraged, urged and otherwise motivated to decorate their area, including advertising signage, as long as it does not obstruct the view of adjacent tables, or overlap into another competitors station.  
  8. Cheftestants are responsible for their area and chili.
  9. All cooking must be done in a sanitary manner. Conditions are subject to inspection by the chief scorekeeper. Failure to comply is subject to disqualification of the Cheftestant.
  10. At no time should you leave cooked chili unattended (for safety and integrity reasons).


The Chili

  1. Chili must be ready to serve before arrival. Minor finishing is permissible on site prior to the event. 
  2. All ingredients must come from approved food sources, so it’s absolutely safe for public consumption (No roadkill).
  3. Chili powder and other spices are fine and dandy, but complete commercial chili mixes are not permitted.
  4. Thickeners such as corn meal, masa or flour are allowed – so are canned tomatoes, chipotles, and beans. Hate to be this obvious, but no canned chili is allowed ... just sayin’.
  5. Chili should be prepared before the event and transported at a safe temperature. 
  6. Chili should be maintained at a safe serving temperature at all times during the event.
  7. Garnishes, etc. are the responsibility of the Cheftestant.


Awards and Judging

The River City Chili Cook-Off will presented first, second, and third place awards for both the Judge’s & People’s Choice. Below are the procedures for each award respectively.


Judge’s Choice


  1. Cheftestants will be assigned a competitor number at random by the chief scorekeeper.
  2. Chili will be presented to the judges in a paper cup without a lid for presentation value.
  3. An official of the cook-off will deliver the chili entries to the judges for a blind taste test
  4. Scores will be tabulated by the chief scorekeeper and an official of the chili cook-off.
  5. There are 5 judges.
  6. All judges will be given score sheets for each cheftestant’s chili, which have five (5) criteria: Presentation, Aroma, Texture, Taste, and After Taste.
  7. Each criteria will received a score from 0-10 points, with 10 being the highest.
  8. Total Judge’s combined score cannot exceed 250 points per Cheftestant.
  9. The decision of the judges is final.
  10. The chief scorekeeper will announce the River City Chili Cook-off winner around 9:15 p.m. The winning Cheftestant will be presented with bragging-rights of Sacramento’s Best Chili, a plaque, and ceremonial championship belt (we’ll hold on to the belt for safe keeping). 


People’s Choice


  1. Cheftestants will serve their chili to attendees of the event.
  2. Voting will be from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
  3. Attendees will vote using an electronic voting system for their favorite chili. The team with the most votes (highest percentage) wins. 
  4. Cheftestants should not share the voting link with non-attendees. Sharing of the voting link and password can result in disqualification.
  5. Cheftestants are allowed to entice attendees to vote for the chili. Buying of drinks, promises of free food in exchange for votes in the People’s Choice are frowned upon and can lead to disqualification.
  6. Results are final. 
  7. The chief scorekeeper will announce the River City Chili Cook-off People’s Choice Award winner around 9:00 p.m. The winning Cheftestant will be presented with bragging-rights of Sacramento’s Favorite Chili and a plaque. 

Our Sponsors

Title Sponsor
Title Sponsor Yelp Sacramento
The 2017 River City Chili Cook-Off is presented by Yelp Sacramento!
Chili Tasting Sponsor
Chili Tasting Sponsor XL Construction
The Chili Tasting area is proudly presented by XL Construction.
Bar Sponsor
Bar Sponsor Laborers Local 185
Enjoy cocktails featuring Tito's Handmade Vodka and Preservation & Co. premium mixers at the L185 bar.
Spirit Donated by
Spirit Donated by Tito's Handmade Vodka
Tito’s Handmade Vodka is produced in Austin at Texas’ oldest legal distillery. We make it in batches, use old-fashioned pot stills, and taste-test every batch.
All Sponsors
All Sponsors 2017 Sponsors
The River City Chili Cook-off wouldn't be a success if not for our gracious sponsors.