Restaurants, Cookoffs & Recipes: It’s Chili Season in the D

By: Toni Cunningham | October 3, 2014

We are mere days into the fall season, and after experiencing some of the nicest weather we have in, well, quite a while, it’s about to get colder in the D. Thank you, bipolar Michigan!

I have nothing against an unseasonably warm start to fall, and this weekend’s dip in temperature is perfect for engaging in autumnal activities, such as chili cookoffs! Take a break from consuming pumpkin flavored everything for a moment and belly up to a warm bowl of chili. You’ve got plenty of options this time of year in Metro Detroit, like attending a cookoff, tracking down a warm bowl at a restaurant, or whipping up a pot of your own.

The 19th Annual Great Lakes Regional Chili Cookoff is taking place in Downtown Plymouth’s Kellogg Park this weekend. The event on Sunday, Oct. 5 will also include live bands, activities for children, dance performances and a motorcycle show. Chili samples will be available to the public from home cooks, as well as restaurants, and there will be plenty of variety, including red chili, green chili, vegetarian chili and meat chili.

All revenue raised from the chili cookoff will benefit Habitat for Humanity and Penrickton Center for Blind Children. Of the chefs competing in the cookoff, the grand prize winner will take home $1000! For additional information, take a peek at the website.

Garden City’s 7th Annual Chili Cookoff will take place the following weekend on Saturday, Oct. 11. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the farmers market lot (located at the corner of Ford Road and Middlebelt Road), and will feature chili, hot dogs, a beer tent, a bake sale, live music, and plenty of activities for children. If you bring your kids along, they’ll be able to enjoy wagon rides, face painting and a dunk tank.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the best chili makers, and the 4th Annual “Hot Chili and Hot Rods” car and motorcycle show will also hand out awards in various categories.

The South Oakland Chili Cookoff is set for Saturday, Nov. 22 at the Royal Oak Farmers Market. Whether you’re a restaurant, a businesses or an individual, all are welcome to participate and submit their very best chili recipes. Awards will be given out for the Best of the Best, People’s Choice, Most Unique and Most Creative Booth, so there are plenty of opportunities to take home a prize.

The family-friendly event will also include beer, live entertainment and silent auction raffles. Proceeds from the South Oakland Chili Cookoff will go to the Boys & Girls Club and the Royal Oak Jaycees in order to maintain community projects.

Perhaps you are a busy bee or a social butterfly of sorts and you already have all of those aforementioned dates packed with activities. Lucky for you, there are a few restaurants in southeast Michigan that serve up great chili, so you can get your fix another way.

Brady’s Tavern, 31231 Southfield Rd., Beverly Hills, has been serving up food as long as I’ve been alive (est. 1990), and any menu that contains a category called “Champion Chili” is okay in my book. Try the Chili “All the Way,” which is served in a bread bowl and topped with shredded cheddar cheese, onions and sour cream. If you’d rather nix the bread, you can order Brady’s Chili “The Award Winner” without the carbs. Chicken chili is also on the menu.

Cheli’s Chili Bar, 47 E. Adams Ave., Detroit, is an obvious choice. It’s located right by Comerica Park and Ford Field, so you’re right in the epicenter of downtown Detroit. Depending on how hungry you are, you can order a cup, crock or bread bowl filled will Cheli’s Original Chili, Veggie Chili or Chicken Chili. Each can be sprinkled with a variety of toppings including onions, cheese, jalapenos, salsa and oyster crackers.

Diamond Jim Brady’s Bistro, 43271 Crescent Blvd., Novi, occasionally rotates its menu seasonally, but the 1954 classic recipe that is Jim Brady’s Chili is a constant. If you’re feeling a little less traditional and/or don’t eat meat, try the Vegetarian Black Bean Chili, topped with tortilla straws and cilantro sour cream.

If, after all this chili-filled fun, you still haven’t had enough, it’s time to step into the kitchen. Where do you think all of these fine restaurants and cookoff folks perfected their recipes? In front of the stove, of course. Grab your apron and get ready to try out one of the following:

Whether you prefer your chili with ground beef, turkey, chicken or veggies, you’ll find your perfect cup (or bowl) in Metro Detroit. Now, who’s ready for some comfort food?