How to Host a Big Chili Cook-Off in a Small First Apartment

Nothing helps keep away the cold like a hot bowl of soup or stew, and chili is one of the most iconic dishes to fill this role during the fall and winter. There are many variations of this spicy stew, so chili cook-offs are a popular event during this time of year. Want to host a chili cook-off with your friends in your first apartment but don’t know if you have the space? Read on below to learn how.

Be mindful of how many people you invite

One key aspect of hosting any successful event in a small apartment is being sure not to invite too many people. For a chili cook-off, however, you also need to make sure you invite enough people to have a decent competition. Shoot for 10 to 20 people, depending on the size of your apartment, and be sure to confirm with guests beforehand whether or not they’ll be bringing their own chili.

Decide on the judges

Even for an informal chili cook-off, it can be fun to have judges vote on whose dish was the best, and as the host, it’ll be your responsibility to select them. Three judges is the typical amount, and nothing says you can’t name yourself as one of them if you want! Otherwise, pick judges that you think would enjoy coming to your chili cook-off but are unlikely to bring anything themself. 

Bring a tried and tested chili recipe

It can be fun to experiment with interesting new recipes, but if you’re the host of the chili cook-off, you’ll have plenty to do, so you’ll want to stick with a chili recipe that can’t go wrong. If you have a favorite chili recipe that you’re already comfortable with making, that’s perfect, or you can use this 5-star classic chili recipe that’s guaranteed to be a hit.

Start by cooking a diced yellow onion in a tablespoon of hot oil for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in a pound of lean ground beef, chop it up and cook until the beef is browned. Season with 2.5 tablespoons of chili powder, two tablespoons of ground cumin, two tablespoons of granulated sugar, two tablespoons of tomato paste, one tablespoon of garlic powder, 1.5 teaspoons of salt, ½ teaspoons of ground black pepper, and, optionally, ¼ teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper.

Add in 1.5 cups of beef broth, one 15 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes, one 16 oz. can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed, and one 8-oz. can of tomato sauce. Bring the chili to a low boil, turn the heat to low, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.

Have plenty of counter or table space

While you can bring your own chili if you want, the nice thing about a cook-off for a gathering is that you won’t have to worry about preparing all the food yourself, and most people will just bring a pot or crockpot with their chili already cooked in it. This does mean you’ll need plenty of counter or table space, however, so make sure you plan in advance and clear a spot for all the pots of chili. You can also optionally provide cards where guests can label which pot of chili they cooked.

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Author My First Apartment

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