(Perfectly captured photo by attendee Christina Orlovsky Page)
What a day. Months and months of meetings, planning, dodging obstacles, ditching our day jobs to file permits, staying up late after the kids go to bed to post updates on social media, making trips to the printer again and again and again… all for this incredible day! SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off 2015 was definitely one for the books, and although we are still tying up loose ends and putting supplies away (and gearing up for our committee after party, yee-haw!), we are taking a moment to reflect on the day.
This event blows us away every year; the Chefs bringing their a-game and loads of awesome chili, the brewers delivering donated kegs of the best beer in town, all the hard-working craft vendors setting up their 10×10 shops in the street and the team of tireless parent volunteers arriving at the wee hours of the morning and staying late into the deep, dark night on a Sunday to make this all happen. Our gratitude overfloweth.
We don’t call this event a Chili Cook-Off for nothin’! A little friendly competition between 40 of San Diego’s most generous Chefs to determine who can create and serve the best chili in the coolest ceramic bowls did not disappoint this year. The chili game was strong, and the judges had no easy task awarding first place winners in the following categories:
Best Overall: Toronado San Diego
“Totally Rad” Chef Missy Sandoval // Smoked Lamb Leg, Tri-tip Chipotle Chili
Best Vegetarian: Monkey Paw Brewery
Chef Onan Davis // Vegan “Blairsteak” Chili with Mushrooms, Peppers and Monkey Paw Corneilius Stout
Most Unique: South Park Brewing Company
Chef Luis Aguirre // Shrimp and Seafood “Sausage Style” Smoked Chili Topped with Roasted Corn Bread and Smoked Jalapeno Cream
People’s Choice (awarded by attendees!): West Coast Tavern
Chef Abe Botello // West Coast Style Chili with Short Rib, Tri Tip and White Navy Beans
Congratulations to all the winners, and a big shout out to all the Chefs and their teams for participating. Hauling chili is no small feat!
Finally, on a personal note if I may… one day post-SoNo my 1st grade son came home from school ecstatic that he had learned some cool new words in Spanish (we are now only saying colors in Spanish around the house..) and that he got to partner with his best friend in dance class. These are just a few of the programs offered to our McKinley kids because of the funds SoNo Fest raises! They are called “enrichment” classes for a reason- they really do enrich the lives of the students. If you attended SoNo and bought a bowl, a beer, a kids zone wristband or a gift from a vendor, you have personally contributed to the programs these kids love. If you donated your time, spread the word about this event, made food, popped tents, picked up trash or let this event take over the street in front of your house, you have personally contributed to enriching the lives of the students at McKinley! Our hearts are full of gratitude. And from my happy 6 year old to you: Thank You.