Do you know what it takes to make award winning chili? We do.

The 20th Anniversary Blues And Buffett Chili Challenge is Sunday, February 9 at the Cedar Rapids Marriott Hotel, 1200 Collins Rd. NE from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

This annual fundraiser is one of our favorite winter events with dozens of chili to sample. Along with the great food is the popular silent auction featuring gift baskets and other goodies.

All donations go to help the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy and the Henry Davis Scholarship Program.

Tickets are available in advance for $8 or $10 at the door.

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    RULE 1: White Chicken Chili is Legit

    We love all kinds of chili - red bean, white bean, chili with venison or buffalo, chili with no meat or chili with all meat. We have no complaints about the use of white meat chicken or ground turkey. The secret of every great chili lies in the ingredients and in the imagination of the chili-maker. 

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    RULE 2: Five-Alarm Chili is Officially the Hottest

    No matter what experts tell you, chili can never be hotter than Five-Alarm. That is the highest rating of heat you can get when it comes to spicing up your chili. Forget about that Spinal Tap argument where that guy says "this one goes to eleven..."  It stops at five, period. Five-Alarm Chili is something to behold, but be advised - it is more than most of us can handle.

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    RULE 3: Mild Chili is NOT Just for Wimps.

    Mild chili is for chili connoisseurs who savor the flavor of all the other ingredients that make it so good. Spices like cumin, turmeric, and even cinnamon can really fire up a bowl without bringing the heat. Yes those spices can all make their way into some fine chili recipes, so don't let anyone hassle you about enjoying a mild chili that doesn't burn all day like a dumpster fire.

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    RULE 4: Presentation is Everything.

    A good chili has personality and a flair for the dramatic. A pinch of shredded cheddar and finely chopped scallions on the top of the chili bowl adds much-needed color and flavor to an otherwise plain dish. Pairing your chili with a cold malt beverage and a sprinkling of a few nicely salted tortilla chips makes your plate more complete.

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    RULE 5: Blues and Jimmy Buffett Own the Playlist

    Genuine Houserockin' Blues and Jimmy Buffett songs provide the absolute best soundtrack to enjoy an authentic bowl of chili, especially in the dead of winter. If you love Buddy Guy, BB King, and Albert Collins you'll find yourself in good company at this Chili Challenge. If you also love the calypso crooning of Jimmy Buffett (the unofficial pirate of the seven seas) you're in good company here. So why don't we get drunk and chew?