Registration for the Chili contest is open!

Think you have what it takes to wear the hoist the hardware? Step up and join 15 chef contestants who will battle over three rounds for this year’s Chili Cook-Off title! Prizes and places for the overall and vegetarian divisions are available. Register now!

The deadline for contest entry is Sunday, January 15th.


$50.00 Registration fee includes: Event & contest entry, Official OK Chili Cook-Off Apron, Appetizer Buffet, drink specials, entry into door prize raffle and donation to OK.

  1. Contestants must pre-register; no walk-ups will be accepted for contest judgment.
  2. Contestants must sign-in at the registration upon arrival. Chili drop-off: 11:00 – 11:25 a.m.
  3. Chili must be prepared in advance and will be transferred to pans provided by OK.
  4. OK will provide chafing dishes, heating element and ladles. Chili must be warm upon arrival. Please note, not heat up cold chili.
  5. Contestants must prepare between 3-5 quarts of chili.
  6. All ingredients are OK to use, no restrictions. If you are using ingredients people may be allergic to, please let a staff member know so OK can make signs to be posted at your station.
  7. OK will provide common condiments such as: oyster crackers, shredded cheese, diced onions and sour cream.
  8. Eating utensils such as: bowls, spoons and napkins will be provided.
  9. Specialty condiments/toppings are NOT allowed for judging. Eg: No corn bread, sour cream, etc… There is no room on the tables for extra condiments/toppings/sides etc.
  10. Each chef will be able to prepare the chili cup serving for judging. Runners will receive the cup and serve it to the judges.
  11. Judge’s backs will face the serving stations to keep chefs anonymous. No signage, handouts, recipe cards are to be displayed or provided to any of the judges.
  12. Contestants are responsible for the clean-up of their station
  13. Event staff will dispose of left over items after the close of the event

*** If you have any additional questions, please let me know and I will do my best to answer them: or 708-860-6461


1st Place: $500

2nd Place: TBD

3rd Place: Crock Pot and Chef’s Knife


Winner: TBD

1st Place Vegetarian (Vegetarian chili’s will be in the overall running, but the top vegetarian chili will receive a prize)



  • Judging will start at 11:30.
  • Winners will be announced once judging has commenced, around 1:30 -1:45 pm.
  • 3 rounds of judging will take place to determine a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place chili.
  • 3 judges, however a 4th (tiebreaker) judge will be designated in the event of a tie in the 1st
  • The judging will be based upon TASTE!

Round 1

  • Each judge will sample the 15 chilis submitted and rank them on a scale of 1 – 10 based on the criteria above.
  • Top 5 (highest point total) will move on to Round 2
  • In the event of a tie, a 4th judge will sample the tied chili’s and rank them ultimately breaking the tie.

Round 2

  • Judges will taste the top 5 chili finalists and choose their top 3 based on the same criteria as the first round.
  • Top 3 vote getters move forward to the final contest prize round.

Round 3 (Prize Round)

  • Each judge will rank the top 3 chili finalists.
  • Based on the rankings received, a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner will be determined.
  • Vegetarian Division
  • New to this year’s event is the Vegetarian Division
  • Veggie chili will be judged in the overall competition as well as in this division
  • Veggie chili will then be judged against the other recipes in the division, based on the same criteria as the other judging (mentioned above)
  • The top recipe will be awarded the Veggie Division crown

Each chef will have judge’s constructive comments emailed to them after the contest. 


It’s no small task to sit at the judge’s table at the OK Chili Cook-off. We are grateful to have these professional chefs and chili aficionados taking the charge.

Lou Lio

Lou Lio

KCC Catering

Sweet Lou is a professionally trained chef and works part time with Knockout Catering as a chef and coach. Lou is a past contestant of this event and is looking forward to trying all the chilis.

Erik Williams

Erik Williams

Owner of Carnivore

Erik will also be returning as judge for the third time this year. He is one of the owners of Carnviore in Oak Park, which has appeared on WGN’s Chicago’s Best and been named one of the best burgers by the Chicago Tribune.

Tom Kunkel

Tom Kunkel

Owner of Urban Pioneer Group

Tom will be judging the chili contest for the first time this year. He owns and operates Urban Pioneer Group, along with his wife Sheila, which has been doing many exciting collaborations with the community including a pop up that featured Knockout Catering along with other local companies.

Sean Cusick

Sean Cusick

Executive Chef at Smoque BBQ in Chicago

Sean is the Executive Chef at Smoque BBQ in Chicago, one of the cities best BBQ joints. This is his third year as a judge and he is excited to see what new ideas people have this year.