Duo of downtown restaurants win Steamboat’s annual Chili Challenge

Teresa Ristow

Chili Challenge results:


  1. "Double J's Famous Bison Red" by Jason Salisbury at Mahogany Ridge
  2. "Cow Bell Chili" by the Routt County Cattle Women


  1. "Smokehouse Verde" by Steamboat Smokehouse
  2. "Cannonbolt Green" by Sam Bolton and Mark Cannon


  1. "Gringo Loco" from Jason Salisubury at Mahogany Ridge
  2. "Grampa's Salsa" from KK Ward Family


  1. "Corn Husk Bread" from Pete List at Sweet Pea
  2. "Hoedown Cornbread" by Justin Shirley and Kirstin Cronin

— A duo of downtown Steamboat restaurants took the top prizes Sunday in the annual Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge.

First time competitors from the Steamboat Smokehouse earned the judges’ top choice for green chili with their “Smokehouse Verde,” while “Double J’s Famous Bison Red” made by Jason Salisbury at Mahogany Ridge was the judge’s top pick for red for the second year in a row.

A busy crowd weaved Sunday afternoon through a couple dozen downtown tents tasting cornbreads, salsas and gallons of chili prepared for the annual contest.

“So far, our favorite is Brandon’s from E3,” said Robin Dugan, who was visiting from Denver and attended the Chili Challenge with mother Lisa Hooker. “It’s comfort food.”

While they agreed that E3’s smoked brisket chili was their top pick, Hooker said a chili made by Steamboat Meat & Seafood Company was another favorite.

“All of their flavors mesh together well,” said Hooker, who lives in Stagecoach. “For Steamboat, if you have a cold day on the ski slope, you should go there and get this from their freezer.”

After tasting, attendees were able to vote for their favorite chili for a People’s Choice prize, which ultimately went to the Routt County Cattle Women’s “Cow Bell Chili.”

“The recipe changes every year,” said Cattle Women member Mary Kaye Schoeneman.

Schoeneman said the group uses local beef to make about seven or eight pots of standard chili before adding special ingredients so secret, even Schoeneman didn’t know what they were.

The group uses any prize money earned each year to put towards scholarships they give out to students pursuing higher education in an agriculture field.

Also using many local ingredients in their chili was Farm to Fork Delivery, which sourced beef from Yampa, onions and carrots from Hayden and Butcherknife beer to create a savory red chili.

“I tried to get as many things locally as I could,” said Farm to Fork Delivery owner Charlie Preston-Townsend, who put together a chili for the contest for the first time this year. “People are receptive.”

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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