The first-timer to the contest battled seven teams and near 100-degree temperatures to claim first-place honors — a trophy and a $300 check.
Williams’ entered his spicy chili “for the fun of it.”
“I think my chances are as good as anyone else’s,” he said. “It’s fun getting the flavors just right, then sitting back and waiting.”
Cooking is in Williams’ blood.
“I’m happy,” the 57-year-old said, “My mother had me cooking since I was 5 years old.”
Jonathon and Judy Ridpath, a husband-wife team, used a special recipe with turkey and fire-roasted green chiles to put them over the top.
“We’ve been doing it for four years,” Jonathon Ridpath said.
All competitors were also required to use Jacob’s cattle beans, which were provided by the contest organizers, in their chili.
The Ridpaths received a $75 check for third place and were picked for the People’s Choice Award.
Judy Ridpath believes “it’s just fun supporting Tracy.”
“But I think his chili is the best,” she said.
The teams had their chili ready for the three judges to taste by 1 p.m.
According to one of the judges, Ali Cox, the criteria included color, aroma, consistency and aftertaste.
“This is my first year doing it, so I have a clean palate,” she said.
State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), whose 5th District includes Tracy and Mountain House, has attended the festival for almost 20 years and was also invited to judge.
“I’m hoping one will jump out at me, but so far they’re all delicious,” Galgiani said.
Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel was the third judge.
Once the judges had tasted each chili, the public was invited to sample the entries and cast their own votes for the People’s Choice award.
People swarmed around the chili cook-off tent, eager to have a taste of the competitors’ efforts.
Nancy Douglas was holding multiple cups of chili.
“It’s just nice to come out and support the neighborhood,” she said.
For the second year in a row, Joyce Nelson and her son, Steve Nelson, were selected second by the judges and given a $150 check.
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