I could not care less about sports. the idea of spending any of the few precious hours of life I have left on this planet watching a bunch of overpaid, adult men trot around playing with a ball excites me about as much as listening to Ben Stein read a transcript of Barefoot Contessa. But since I do possess both an X and a Y chromosome, I have a competitive streak that will quickly turn a game of Cards Against Humanity into bloodsport if you dare challenge me. You don’t want to know what I did to my little brothers over a game of Monopoly in the ’70s.
But while I would rather do tequila shots out of Mario Batali’s hairy naval than sit through a single episode of a “competition” like “Dancing with the Stars” or “American Idol,” I do think some cooking competition shows are pretty entertaining. The original Japanese version of “Iron Chef” is a very compelling mix of 1990’s pro wrestling production values with a heaping helping of WTF? that rivals the weird part of YouTube. On the other hand, watching Gordon Ramsay take a piss on his 12 Michelin stars during “Master Chef” by pimping Walmart’s GMO, factory-farmed food “product” makes me want to shove a boning knife into my frontal cortex. And I will personally set fire to Anthony Bourdain’s Moleskine notebook if his new competition show, “The Taste,” doesn’t prominently feature at least one shot per episode of something dripping down Nigella Lawson’s décolletage.
That aside, cooking competitions have been popular long before any of these program. One of the most popular cooking competition traditions got its start back in 1967 when a writer and a humorist squared off against each other in the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas, over who made the best pot of chili. Not exactly a manly, wild west showdown between John Wayne and the Marlboro Man, but rather a snarky and cantankerous kerfuffle between a surly writer and a smart-ass humorist. So much for my efforts to bolster the testosterone swelled roots of cooking competitions.
Next week, the Main X24 World Heavyweight Chili Championship will continue this great tradition with its annual slugfest between local chefs, business professionals, and home cooks to determine whose chili reigns supreme. You may recall that last year an attractive, virile, youthful, yet humble contestant led a cook-off team that wowed both the crowd and judges alike with a pot of chili that was hailed as a game changer; its flavor so legendary it may have created a sixth taste to follow umami. His triumph over the other contestants earned him the coveted championship belt and a place in culinary history. I wouldn’t want to embarrass him by using his name, but his initials are Mike McJunkin.
This year I’ll be returning with a team of handpicked professionals to defend the title as “Tenacious C and the Bowl of Destiny.” Our newest winning chili creation, “FlavorousMaximus,” will pummel the competition into chili powder and allow the championship belt to stay in its proper home, above the door of The Pulse chili labs. During the competition, the “Loading Dock of Rock” will feature Glowing Bordis, The Jackies and Strung Like a Horse feeding your earhole with high-quality sounds while you feed your chili hole with Chattanooga’s finest capsaicin creations.
Come by The Pulse tent, meet the master, view the belt and try some chili. If you ask nicely I might let you try some of my Trinidad Scorpion hot sauce I’ll have hiding behind the counter. All aboard to flavortown!
Or something like that.