Chili/Mac Challenge has new November date

October 29, 2016 GMT

With a new name, date and outdoor venue, the Great Mac and Chili Challenge debuts Sunday, Nov. 6, at Westport’s Sherwood Island State Park.

Organizer Jim Keenan said 20 entries will be featured in three categories: Classic Beef Chili, Creative Chili and Mac ’n’ Cheese. Defending champions are Chili Bomb, of Fairfield (classic chili); Little Pub, of Fairfield, Greenwich, Ridgefield and Wilton (creative chili); along with Simply Delicious, of Norwalk (macaroni and cheese).

Keenan said that like his Chowdafest, this event is designed to promote terrific chefs and their restaurants, giving people a “little taste” of why they should visit these eateries. Other contestants include the Blind Rhino, in Norwalk; Bogey’s, of Norwalk; DrewbaQ, a Fairfield County food truck; Hub & Spoke, of Bridgeport; TruNorth, of Bridgeport; Walrus & Carpenter, of Bridgeport; Liquid Lunch, of Shelton and Milford; Hoodoo BBQ, of Ridgefield; Old Post Tavern, of Fairfield; Geronimo, of Fairfield and New Haven; Chef’s Table, of Fairfield; and Judy’s Bar & Kitchen, of Stamford. Some competitors have entered more than one category.

As Keenan explains: “Previously, this event has been held over Super Bowl weekend the past couple years and was formerly known as Chilifest. (But) most chili cook-offs are held outside mainly because it’s difficult to find an indoor venue big enough to accommodate all the chili lovers (and) also because the fall weather makes us appreciate warm comfort foods even more. We tweaked our name because we wanted to be different from all the ‘fests’ that are around because we’re a different kind of an event. Calling it ‘The Great Mac and Chili Challenge’ has a great Charlie Brown, fall kind of vibe to it, which brings out the kid in all of us.”

It will be presented under an “open-air tent,” he said. The event uses a “people’s choice” format: Everyone receives a spoon, ballot and pencil upon entry in order to vote for their favorites.

Sherwood Island State Park, Westport. Sunday, Nov. 6, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. $15 adults, $5 kids (6-12). Free parking. Ticket includes sampling of ice cream and milk from the Farmer’s Cow. The event will benefit the Turtle Shell Fund and Friends of Sherwood Island. MacAndChiliChallenge.com