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Chili Cook Off Sunday at the Shell Factory

September 14, 2016
By CHUCK BALLARO - 20 local chefs expected to compete at event ( , Pine Island Eagle

Weather wise, it's expected to be a hot day at the Shell Factory Sunday. And the thing guaranteed to make it hotter will be the chili.

The Shell Factory & Nature Park will present The Great American Chili Cook Off from noon to 6 p.m.

Admission is free, and the public is asked to bring canned or dry goods for donation to the Harry Chapin Food Bank, which will benefit from the proceeds.

The cook-off is sponsored by the Southwest Florida Chef's Association. Around 20 of the best area chefs will compete for the title of best chili chef. To compete, you must be a member of that organization.

The event was held at the Pink Shell for the first six years, but organizers were searching for a different venue, according to Rick Tupper, marketing director/CFO of the Shell Factory, who said this will either serve as the last big event of the summer or the first one of the season, however you look at it.

"We have a lot more going on here than at Pink Shell. The fun park, nature park and stores are open, so I think they were hoping to draw a bigger crowd," Tupper said.

The chefs (and Tupper) will gather at the Shell Factory before dawn to begin to prepare their masterpieces from scratch, slow cook their meats and let their chili simmer. It won't be no canned chili, rather concoctions that will take hours to prepare, some of which are guaranteed to set off the sprinkler systems.

"They will start to cook the chili from scratch here at noon. They can't bring the chili. They have to make it here," Tupper said. "The judging will be at 3 p.m.

Both the public and chili judges will vote.

There will be live entertainment from 2 to 6 p.m., a beer tent, and a special Family Fun Park package.

The Shell Factory fun park, Nature Park and retail store will also be open, featuring a brand new state-of-the-art video arcade. Tupper believes this could be the start of yet another successful venture.

"We think it will be another one of those great annual events here," Tupper said. "We'll also have a huge Trick-or-treat event, Christmas and Gumbofest."



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