Tustin Tasty: Chili Cook-Off + Quirky Contests

June gets a savory start at the Tustin Street Fair.

NBC Bay Area

BEYOND THE GRILL: Tongs and rubs and brushes and bowls of sauce get a lot of play in the food press come June, and no wonder: The start of the season is start of grill season, and even if you yourself don't own one, bet you'll cross paths with a grill, and a proud griller, before Labor Day arrives. And yet there are those eaters who, while they adore savory, meaty, hearty foods, aren't so inclined to request a whole burger or some baby back ribs. They prefer their meal in a bowl, with a hunk of cornbread or sourdough, and a bunch of peppers and spices and various beans to round the whole round dish out. We speak of chili, of course, a food often associated with the cooler months (and a food that gives way to the grill classics come June). But, of course, June brings the gloom around Southern California, so let's just call this the ideal chili month, too. Tustin embraces that concept, and each and every year a many-cook Chili Cook-Off goes down at its annual start-of-June street fair. And 2015 will be no different; the peppers-plus people'll be out, tasting spoons in hand, on Sunday, June 7. 

DOZENS OF TEAMS: This is one of the hugest of the huge, in terms of the Golden State and chili-themed showdowns, so expect dozens of tastings. Also don't be surprised to see the chili for tasting run out after a few hours, given the popularity and attendance. "Chili tickets are $1. Tasting tickets are a ticket per cup," so arrive with cash if you want to chili on up. If chili is only sort of your thing, take note: There shall be watermelon eating, and a stein-holding contest (not easy in the slightest), craft booths, and lotsa (lotsa lotsa) stuff to look at during what is truly one of Tustin's biggest blowouts. Cost to get in? It's nothing, zip, zero. Cost to buy snacks, items, and such? Yep, that'll take some dough. Sampling the winning chilis? Well, that'll take chili tickets, but think of the extra zing you'll get, beyond the spicy peppers, knowing that your summer doesn't have to be all about the grill, meat-wise. You can eat winning vittles that are both summery and off the grill (and in the cup).

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