San Diego Ceramic Connection


The San Diego Ceramic Connection Community Chili Potluck is one of our favorite parts of the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off!

Thanks to all those who came out to volunteer, contribute and taste the chili at the 18th Annual San Diego Ceramic Connection Chili Potluck. They had a total of 27 entries of cornbread and chili that came in both crock pots and stock pots totaling roughly 50 gallons! We are touched and proud of the support of our community and the dedication to making this event a success and to supporting our local McKinley Elementary School.

All of the chili and cornbread dishes were fresh and delicious…and there wasn’t a drop left by 4:00 pm. The chili champs are listed below; each first place winner was announced at the SoNo Fest and received a chili champ apron handmade by a McKinley grandparent just for this event. Honorable mentions were also announced and included Max and Larry, for their on-going dedication and support to this event and the community, and Carmen Costello for her entry in memory of a beloved McKinley teacher (Rittko Chocolate Chipotle Chili).


Here are the winners of the 2014 competition:

Best Omnivore (with meat!): Brick Wall for his Turkey Chili

Best Vegetarian: Clint White for his Vegan Chili

Most Unique: Theresa Talley for her San Diego Fisherman’s Chili

Best Overall: Brick Wall for his Turkey Chili

Best Cornbread: Sarah Scalo for her Grace’s Cornbread Pudding


Honorable Mentions:

Max & Larry for their Spicy Beef Chili

Carmen Costello for her Rittko Chocolate Chipotle Chili


Thank you to everyone who brought chili!

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Competition was fierce and the chili was flowing! 39 local restaurants served up their best chili for us! Our 15 esteemed judges were divided into groups and taste-offs were had to determine the winners for the following categories:


Best Veggie:

Kensington Cafe’s Vegan Chili


Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery’s Vegan, Medium Heat Dark Beer Chili


Most Unique:

Waypoint Public’s House Made Chorizo & Brisket, Smoked Porter No Bean Chili with Jalapeno Crema


Underbelly’s Spicy Pork & Beef Chili with Pickled Scorpion Peppers

True North Tavern’s Hawaiian Style Medium Heat Chili with Pork & Roasted Veggies


Best Overall:

Small Bar’s Short Rib Mild Chili


Underbelly’s Spicy Pork & Beef Chili with Pickled Scorpion Peppers,

Soda & Swine’s Short Rib, Milk Stout Chili with Guajillo Pepper and 70% Dark Chocolate ,

City Tacos served up 2 chilis: Australian Leg of Lamb, Pinto and Kidney Bean Mild Chili with Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese & Cornmeal Croutons AND Carnitas, Habanera Sauce, Beans & Chicharron Chili with Cotija & Monterrey Cheese and fresh cream

Carnitas Snack Shack’s ‘Smokehouse Kings’ Mild Chili made with Smoked Brisket, Prime Rib Eye, Kidney and Pinto Beans


The People’s Choice winner (438 people texted in their vote for people’s choice!) for the 39 Chili entries this year:

Carnitas Snack Shack’s ‘Smokehouse Kings’ Mild Chili made with Smoked Brisket, Prime Rib Eye, Kidney and Pinto Beans


Did your favorite win? Is your mouth already watering for next year’s SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off? See you in 2015!

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The community has really come together to support this year’s SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-off! Local business San Diego County Credit Union moved in to their North Park location on University & 32nd Street just a few years ago and have already become an important partner in this community. North Park Community Preschool nurtures our littlest North Parkers who eventually become McKinley Elementary students and we are proud to call them community sponsors. Urban Craft Camp is not only a cool local craft making business and sponsor, it was also founded and currently operated by our SoNo Fest chair Jen Byard! Ascent Real Estate, Media Arts Center and Pachi’s have all dedicated time and funds, for which we are so grateful! Newbie treat shop Hammond’s Ice Cream on University Avenue is a sponsor this year and will be on-site serving up dessert after you get your fill of chili… Now that’s a sweet sponsor!

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The annual SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-off is an accumulation of the incredible idea a certain ceramic crafter had, an army of hard-working parent volunteers, creative and generous Chefs, local breweries with big hearts and spectacular neighborhood businesses who sign on to sponsor this beloved event! Cruise by the Mission Federal Credit Union booth and give them a high-five for their Gold Plus sponsorship. Their dedication to this community and their understanding of how important this event is for the kids at McKinley Elementary is amazing. LJG Partners, Xerox  and the Union Tribune are all showing SoNo Fest their support and we couldn’t pull off such a great event without all of them. Waypoint Public hasn’t been in North Park long, but they stepped up to sponsor this year; now there is even more reason to stop in for a craft brew, Public Style burger and those fries we dream about. Our neighborhood North Park Thursday Farmers’ Market is proud to say they have sponsored this incredible event for three years now. It takes a village to pull together this delicious day- take some time to show our sponsors the love!

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It’s meat, beans and tomatoes, right? Not the chili served up at the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-off! You’ll find more than a few surprising ingredients in your chili bowl on Sunday, and you won’t be disappointed. Newcomer Bubs at the Ballpark is coming in strong with a Mild Chili featuring.. Elk! Another newbie, City Tacos, is determined not to be outdone- make sure you try their Two Bean Lamb Chili with Jalapeno Cheddar Polenta Croutons made with Australian leg of Lamb, pinto and kidney beans, jalapeno cheddar cheese and cornmeal croutons *whew*! Last-minute addition Eclipse Chocolate will fill your bowl with their Pork & Black Bean Chili featuring Dark & White Chocolate Moles (we knew they’d work the chocolate in there.. what a combo!). Going bean-free this year, Fish Public is serving up a Smoked Pork Belly, Short Rib and Ground Pork Chili with roasted veggies and hints of espresso and Guinness. Of course returning Best Overall Chili Champion Ritual Tavern is cooking up something special, and this year’s concoction will be a collaboration between Ritual’s Chef Jonathan Harthorn and Albert Juarez of The Meat Men: a Smoked Beef Brisket and Alligator & Wild Boar Sausage Chili, with a heat rating of hot. Adventurous eaters, get ready!


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Pork rules at the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-off, and our local Chefs competing in this year’s contest prove it! Returning favorite Hamiltons Tavern is cooking up a Green Pork Chili and you’ll want to try Starlite’s ‘Chili from the Heart’ with pork, beef and chicken. Looking for something unique? Taste Station Tavern’s Shredded Pork Belly & Black Bean Chili or Hawaiian Style Pork Chili from True North Tavern. We always look forward to Chef Matt Gordon’s chili creation; and this year Urban Solace is serving up a medium heat Verde Smoked Pork Chili! Check out Brabant Bar & Cafe’s Spicy Creole Pork Chili and save room for the Spicy Pork Chili from Tiger! Tiger! Pork… it’s what’s for dinner (or lunch) this Sunday, December 7th!


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