It's the ultimate test for taste buds.
The International Chili Society of San Juan Capistrano conducted its championship cookoff during the weekend. The winning bowl was created by an Illinois real estate agent who claimed an "extra tweak" to her jalapenos gave her the edge.
According to the group's website:
Traditional Red Chili is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats,cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden.
Local news from across Southern California
Maureen Barrett, of Willow Springs, Ill., outcooked more than 160 competitors Sunday in the 43rd World's Championship in Charleston, S.C. The three-day contest drew thousands to a minor league baseball park.
The 52-year-old winner took the $25,000 top prize for a zesty bowl of traditional red chili, swaying judges seeking a perfect blend of meat and spices. Some 167 cooks qualified for the three-day championship, with 28 reaching the finals table.
Barrett's bowl is no fluke. She has 12 first-place bowls to her credit, according to the International Chili Society's website.
The event marked the first time the nonprofit conducted a cook-off east of Mississippi River.
If you have a pot that might be a contender, enter it in one of the organization's upcoming cook-offs or chili-related events in California. There's one scheduled for Oct. 24 at Lions Park in Apple Valley and the Nov. 21 Harvest Fair Regional in San Bernardino.