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Malibu stays true to tradition at Chili Cook-Off

The 36th annual Kiwanis Club Malibu Chili Cook-Off and Carnival included plentiful chili samples (inset), served here by (left to right) Susan Kelly, Micah Johnson, Yvonne Gelbman and Fire Station 89 explorers Jacob Anderson, Alexander Rivera and Wade Cookus at the Malibu Methodist Church booth. Photos by Suzy Demeter/22nd Century Media
Carnival rides enticed attendees of all ages at the Chili Cook-Off.
Four-year-old Malibu local Beck Bryan is all smiles as he enjoys the caterpillar ride at the 36th annual Kiwanis Club Malibu Chili Cook-Off and Carnival Friday, Sept. 1.
Frankie Manera (left) and India Cortese toss Frisbies while playing the Ring a Duck game.
(Left to right) Mason Ransier, Mia Ransier, Harlow Muchmore and Isla Muchmore peer into the “parent drop off zone” Friday, Sept. 1.
(Left to right) Carol and Stephen Hoyt, of Hoyt Family Vineyards, pose with Sandy Beck, Nancy Hoffman and Marcus Beck on Friday, Sept. 1, in the Chili Cook-Off’s beer and wine garden.
Shelley Myers (left) is helped by Barefoot Dreams sales manager Valerie Korac as she peruses some of the vendor’s soft clothing which was available for purchase at the 36th annual Kiwanis Club Malibu Chili Cook-Off.
Siblings Scarlett and Jackson Wolfe take a ride.
Bernardo Gigliotti (left) takes a sample of Jersey Jimmy’s Killer Chili from James Soubasis.
Emme Bohana, 9, hugs her unicorn carnival prize.
Carnival-goers (left to right) Jimmy Carlos, Connor MacPherson and Dante Santangelo ride the Tilt-A-Whirl.
The Roman Helmets perform in the “parent drop off zone” of the Chili Cook-Off.
Fire Station #89 explorers Wade Cookus (left) and Alexander Rivera walk around with buckets of cold water bottles to offer to carnival-goers.
Offering chili and recruiting for Malibu Little League are board members Peter Hopkinson (far left) and Doug Carroll (far right).
The winners of the traditional chili contest (left to right) Russell Harvey, Ethan Long and Dan Fagan show off their ribbons. Photo Submitted
Winners of the new vegan/vegetarian chili category gather for a photo with judges at the Malibu Chili Cook-Off.
Barbara Burke, Freelance Reporter
8:55 am PDT September 6, 2017

The Malibu Kiwanis Club’s 36th annual Chili-Cook-Off Carnival and Fair once again delighted veterans as well as newcomers of the event. 

The beloved tradition, marking the end of lazy summer days, the beginning of the school year and the forthcoming autumn, is much more than a chili competition. It offers something for all ages and interests and is one of Malibu’s not-to-be-missed yearly events. 

Once again, in the frenzy of a carnival, shopping experience and chili competition, there was food, fun, and fabulous venders and charitable organizations to boot. 

“This is my 30th year for the Chili Cook-Off. I’ve not missed one in all those years,” said Tracy Park, of Malibu. “It’s fantastic. Each year, it gets better and better. The best part is on Friday night. You see all your friends who have been gone all summer. It’s a really feel-good event.” 

Friday night was locals’ night and featured the beer and wine garden sponsored by Hoyt Family Wines. The area was packed by friends getting reacquainted, and the Riptide Blues Band offered entertainment.

“We bring a lot of people together from this great family that is Malibu,” said Steve Hoyt, sponsor of the beer and wine garden. “We keep them here all night. All the local people who support Malibu show up and that benefits all the great charitable causes the Chili Cook-Off helps. Everyone looks forward to this each year.”

Entertainment was first rate all weekend. Sunday, Sept. 3, featured the Karma Dealers. 

Malibu’s emerging artists were also represented, with siblings Spencer and Lauren Carr Reed of Lulu and the Frantic Shrimp taking the stage. Lauren, 12, has delighted Malibuites on stage at the Malibu Playhouse throughout the years as audiences have literally watched her grow up on stage. Spencer, 15, plays a hot lead guitar. Those were only some of several acts that entertained attendees for the jam-packed four-day event.

Malibuites may not realize just how special the Chili Cook-Off is. Cathie Frey of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who was visiting her aunt, Maggie Luckerath, put that into perspective.  

“This is the best carnival I’ve ever seen,” Frey said. “We don’t have anything so special in Pennsylvania. This offers so much for adults and kids and in doing so, greatly supports so many charities in the local community.”

The chili competition was fierce and tasty, featuring 14 entries, including traditional, vegetarian and vegan varieties. 

“We’ve got a prize-winning chili made by Susan Kelly over here,” Luckerath said. “It’s a meat chili with Susan’s secret recipe and all proceeds go to the Malibu Methodist Kitchen Rebuild fund.” 

The Smokin’ Barbquties competed ably for customers, as did the firemen from Fire Station 89.

“We’re trying to make some money for Post 5 and help volunteer in the community,” firefighter Wade Cookus said. “We always volunteer as much as we can.” 

With tummies full of chili, children of all ages could meander over to the carnival and enjoy other snacks. There were hot dogs and pickles, popcorn, candy apples, snow cones and much more. In short, it was food and fun heaven.

“I’ve come to the Chili Cook-Off for at least 20 years and my daughter has been here since the year that she was born,” said Donna Bohana, a local Realtor. 

Bohana’s 9-year-old daughter, Emme Duff, was also enjoying the event.

“I like the carnival. You can win a lot of prizes and ride a lot of fun rides,” Duff said. “I played a dart balloon game and won this beautiful unicorn.” 

Little Emme oozed with joy and energy as she displayed her newfound stuffed animal friend.

There were the old standby rides, including a Ferris wheel and a Tilt-A-Whirl, and, for the very brave, the Kamikaze ride touting a cluster of grinning riders, their hair waving wildly in the evening breeze.  

Children were everywhere, bouncing from ride to ride. Teenagers mingled and laughed, sharing stories from the new school year. The queue at the basketball shooting gallery was only rivaled by the long line of wee ones who tried to win a prize by playing a game with little rubber ducks.

“This place is amazing,” Will Lawrence said as he displayed a goldfish he won at the carnival.  

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Chabad of Malibu, the Malibu Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary all manned booths and provided snacks and community information.

Adults went in and out of the beer garden, stopping by to view an eclectic mix of merchandise from vendors. BED|STÜ displayed its organically tanned leather shoes, handbags and accessories, Sorenity Rocks had crystals from all over the world, Malibu Essential Oils offered harried parents a chance to try some calming oils, and Barefoot Dreams of Malibu displayed soothingly soft flannels and cozy knits. 

Every sense a human being is blessed with  enjoyed being immersed in the sensational, sensory celebration that is Malibu’s annual Chili Cook-Off.

“We’re so very happy to be a part of this wonderful community festival and to support all the charities this Chili Cook-Off helps,” said Tracy Jankowski, a BED|STÜ representative.

The event was buzzing with people, conversation, experiences and the warmth of Malibu’s wonderful community. 

Julia and Brooke Holland smiled at the crowd as they represented Deep Samburu Project, one of a plethora of Malibu charities involved in the event.

“We sponsor 30 girls between 8 and 18, enabling them to continue on in school,” Brooke Holland said. “Deep stands for developing, education, empowerment and potential. Samburu is the tribe in Kenya whom we benefit. We also help to create sustainable micro-businesses for women who are marginalized by HIV, AIDS and widowhood.”

The Kiwanis event benefits the Gary Sinise Foundation, which builds homes for returning veterans and offers military veterans other much-needed services, including providing all terrain wheelchairs, as well as offering scholarships. 

As Malibu Surfside News left the event, children of all ages, exhausted from their wonderful experiences, took a break, sitting on some haystacks, happily munching on ice cream cones and surveying their purchases and prizes.

Once again, Malibu’s annual Chili Cook-Off was a hit with all ages. Now, locals can start to count the days until next year’s event.

2017 chili contest winners

Traditional chili prize-winners

• Third place ($200): Dan Fagan, No. 9 Chili made with Guinness 

• Second place ($300): Ethan Long, Ethan the Robot’s Cocoa Chili (first place last year)

• First place ($500): Russell Harvey of Casa Escobar, Russell’s Chili; Harvey donated his prize money to the Malibu Kiwanis Club

• Judges: Diane Peterson, Yvonne Gelbman, Scott Tallal, Jimy Tallal, Margott Rifenbark, David Olan, Maggie Luckerath, Heidi Cunningham, Cathie Frey and Darlene Dubray


Vegan/vegetarian chili prize-winners

• Third place ($200): Alex Rylance of Malibu Rugby Club, Veg-a-licious Chili; Rylance donated half of his profits to the Hurricane Harvey Fund and raised $1,100

• Second place ($300): James Soubasis’ Jersey Jimmy’s Chili 

• First place ($500): Cynthia Pean Chea and Ian Martin, Diaspora Afrique Chili 

• Judges: Denise Kautter, David Kautter, Denise Peak, Jim Marsh, Maria Truz, Stasey Summers and Rod Summers