The chili and music were hot and the brews were cold Nov. 4 when 24 teams vied for titles and thousands filled the parking lot at Wicked Tuna in Murrells Inlet to feast during the 19th annual Lip Rippin’ Chilympics.
The event is one of two main fundraisers for Surfrider Grand Strand, the nonprofit foundation dedicated to the protection of oceans, waves and beaches, according to its website. The concept is simple: each team has three hours to prepare 30 gallons of chili on site. Contestants may cut up the fixings ahead of time, but the chili itself must be made the day of the event.
Attendees purchase tickets to sample the offerings.
Mr. Fish Seafood Market captured the Best Overall title, adding to the accolades it collected in winning the judge’s best entrée award during Myrtle Beach’s Taste of the Town in October.
Ted and Max Hammerman cooked up a chili featuring its in-store smoked yellowfin tuna.
Mr. Fish had competed in the Chilympics in prior years, but had opted out the past four years, Ted Hammerman said.
Nick Huckabee said he was glad Mr. Fish was back. “This is good,” he said, going back for a refill. “This is really good.”
Joe Fuqua, owner of Pop Pop’s Pit BBQ on Highway 707 in Myrtle Beach, won the Best Restaurant title. He said he wears his recipe on his arm, pointing out the tattoos of vegetables and meat running from his wrists to his shoulders.
The one thing he won’t share, though, is the list of spices that go into his chili.
“I lived in Texas, so I know what good chili tastes like,” he said, as he and his staff dished out cups of his chili, a beef-based recipe that included brisket he smoked at his restaurant. “You know, a lot of people think that the hotter the chili, the better it is. I don’t believe that. You have to rely on your seasonings.”
Of course, a little bit of heat, or perhaps a lot of it, was good for Academic Chili Society, which was a double winner. The educators on the team captured the Most Original title for its chicken curry chili and added the Hottest Chili award for its local spice recipe.
Beverly Chillbillies also was a double winner, claiming the People’s Choice award and the Sustain-a-Bowl title.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach took honors for Best Theme, and Quigley’s Pint & Plate’s vegetarian chili won that category, using Joey Johnson’s recipe.
“We wanted something different, something home-grown,” said Dennis Hammond. “People are eating healthier, paying more attention to what they eat, how they eat. We’re glad to help.”