First-Place Chili at the Chili Cook-Off!

by Dorothy Reinhold on September 2, 2014

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Summer went out with a bang in one Malibu neighborhood, as the Mariposa Circle gang fired up for a chili cookoff.

My friend Linn Griffin won the friendly competition with her mother-in-law’s recipe. Her MIL, Sue Griffin of the Nashville, Tenn. area, is known as “Oo-Hoo” by her grandchildren. (Sue-Sue = Oo-Hoo when toddlers attempt to say it!) Family favorites rule the day, don’t they?

How does a chili cookoff work?

Mariposa Circle Chili Cook-Off | ShockinglyDelicious.comThe neighbors assembled their crocks and pots and kettles. There were about 15 entries in this 2nd annual cook-off. Dig in!

Linn Griffin and Mariposa Circle Chili Cook-Off 4 | ShockinglyDelicious.comVoting was by little paper ballot, tucked into a nearby Dixie cup. A young man tabulated, the winner was declared (that’s Linn in her homemade apron, being hugged). Rest assured, there were no hanging chads on these ballots. (Young folks, that reference might pre-date you. Poli-Sci majors, look it up!)

Mariposa Circle Chili Cook-Off | ShockinglyDelicious.comA little swimming just had to be done, though.

Mariposa Circle Chili Cook-Off | ShockinglyDelicious.com2nd place was a vegetarian chili by Cindy Colburn, and 3rd place was a tri-tip and ground beef chili by Lyndsey Weisenberg. And what was for dessert? Tums!

Mariposa Circle Chili Cook-Off | ShockinglyDelicious.comOr maybe a snow cone.

Linn Griffin | ShockinglyDelicious.comThe pleasures of chili are simple. Linn says she makes this chili each year for Christmas dinner, since they don’t travel for the holiday and she likes to have something easy so she can just enjoy the day.

Thinking back, Linn said, “This is one of the first things I ever had when I visited their home in Tennessee, oh, it must have been 20 years ago, but I specifically remember it. I liked it. At my house, we ate chili plain or on rice, but I liked that they ate theirs on top of spaghetti, and Sue would get those canned tamales and serve them on the side.”

That’s how she serves it now, only with more authentic California-bred tamales. “We love to eat our chili atop cooked spaghetti, with a tamale thrown in for an extra kick. I also like how the chili clings to the cooked spaghetti really well,” she said.

Yum, is all I have to say.

How do YOU eat your chili?

First-Place Chili: Oo-Hoo’s Tennessee Treat (Sue Griffin’s Chili)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 6-8

Serving Size: 1 bowl

A classic meaty chili with just a few beans won first prize at a local Malibu neighborhood chili contest.


  • 2 pounds ground beef (85/15 is good, or leaner if you prefer)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped fine
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (8-ounce) can water
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (whatever brand you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can kidney beans (Linn’s preference is pinto)


  1. Brown meat, onion, green pepper, and garlic. Add the rest, cover the pot but leave the lid just slightly ajar, and simmer for about an hour, until you’re satisfied!
  2. The chili is best the next day, so cool it, store in the refrigerator, and simmer another hour before serving the next day.
  3. Serves 6-8.


Recipe source: Linn Griffin, who credits her mother-in-law, Sue Griffin of Tennessee, for the recipe.

Photo credits: Party photos by Brad Griffin. Lead photo by Carstor from Wikimedia. 

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Olivia Chambers September 26, 2021 at 4:03 pm

I love chili but I prefer a spicier version of this recipe. I figured I would give it a try and added some of my homemade ghost pepper hot sauce to this. Turned out wonderfully.


Dorothy Reinhold September 27, 2021 at 2:59 pm

Fabulous! Chili spice is such a personal call…I highly approve of finding a good recipe like this and spicing it up to your liking. Thanks for letting me know you made it and enjoyed it!


sippitysup September 11, 2014 at 11:28 am

I like it con carne. Big chunks of meat (no beans) and lots of chiles! However I would never turn down a bowl of first place chili. GREG


Dorothy Reinhold September 11, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I like ANY bowl of chili that someone else makes!


Alice Mizer September 7, 2014 at 11:19 am

how cool is this?? 🙂 Love the tradition! Both the Christmas and the annual cook-off!


Dorothy Reinhold September 7, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Me too!


Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) September 6, 2014 at 2:16 pm

I like her tradition of serving Chili at Christmas. Good idea. Tis the chili cook-off season and thanks for sharing her winning recipe.


Dorothy Reinhold September 6, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Lea Ann,
I agree, it is a lovely and simple tradition. We all might be better off with simpler meals. 🙂


Jeanne @JollyTomato September 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Love these kinds of family/neighborhood events! And that chili sounds delicious!


Dorothy Reinhold September 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Me too, Jeanne! Adore when neighbors get together.


Marci Crestani September 3, 2014 at 7:46 am

Congratulations to Linn! I’ll try her recipe, but, Dorothy, you must know that your Chili for Seniors is my absolute favorite — the cocoa powder, ohhhhhhhh!


Dorothy Reinhold September 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Oh thanks for reminding me about that one! I love that one, too. Now I am craving it.


susan @ the wimpy vegetarian September 2, 2014 at 9:58 pm

What a fun day it looks to be!!


Dorothy Reinhold September 4, 2014 at 2:20 pm

I just love neighborhood events like this!


Dorothy Reinhold September 20, 2014 at 7:16 am

Then I blame YOU, Betsy/Desserts Required. It was YOUR fault! 🙂


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