Chili Cook Off a success

Long live the Chili King! Sean Harris gives a thumbs-up as he is crowned winner of the first Annual La Crescenta Library Chili Cook-Off on Saturday. Also pictured from left are Marta Wiggins, library manager, and Chase McMunn, library coordinator of the event.


It’s official – the king of all chili in Crescenta Valley is Sean Harris. That title with all its honor was determined by some very dedicated chili taste testers at the La Crescenta Library on Saturday.
The event was the first Annual La Crescenta Library Chili Cook Off held at the La Crescenta Library.
About 10 cooks shared their culinary talents. There was a variety of chili to tickle all taste buds from the super sweet to spicy and even a vegetarian recipe from India.
“It was a lot of work,” said Chase McMunn of the La Crescenta Library.
McMunn was in charge of organizing the event. He along with Marta Wiggins, library manager, admitted to being worried they would not get enough entrants.
“It was a worry but we did well,” Wiggins said.
Ani Aghazaryan, an employee of the library, decided to join the chefs by bringing her own recipe.
“I made it up,” said Aghazaryan of her recipe.
Her chili was a blend of bell and jalapeño peppers, tomatoes, onions, parsley and garlic. She also added mushrooms to her mix.
“This is the first time I have entered a cooking contest. I love to cook,” she added.
As people entered the community room at the library they were handed three voting tabs.  They then grabbed a bowl and spoon and began to taste.
“I like Marta’s but my favorite is my wife’s,” said Mike Lawler.
Wife Pam added cashews to her chili, which soaked up the spices and added a nutty spicy flavor to the dish.
“My mom’s is awesome,” said soon-to-be fifth grader Cole Lewis. Cole’s mother had entered the contest and her son was a big fan.
But in the end there could only be one chili king or queen.
The Friends of the Library donated prizes for the winners. The runner up was Terry
Kappen who received Paula Dean cookware. Harris was awarded a gift card, the chili crown and of course culinary bragging rights.
Harris’ entry was 20 years in the making.
“I started [working] on the recipe when I was in Houston, Texas,” he said.
Harris’ recipe involves simmering overnight and garlic, tons of garlic. The chili had a hearty taste that was both sweet and spicy with chunks of steak. The result had everyone going back for seconds. For Harris’ recipe from the chef himself go to, click on Video and view this week’s podcast.
“We had a good turn out,” McMunn said of the inaugural event. “We are planning to do this again next year.”