MB's Place takes top slot at Fourth of July chili cook-off | News | Palo Alto Online |


MB's Place takes top slot at Fourth of July chili cook-off

Rat Rod Chili and Hung Over Chili place second and third, respectively

Eleven teams went head to head at Mitchell Park for Palo Alto's 38th annual Chili Cook-off festival on Independence Day, competing for the title of best chili in the city.

MB's Place won the city's Best Overall chili, followed by Rat Rod Chili and Hung Over Chili who placed second and third, respectively.

Other winners include Sound Bites, who was awarded with Best Decorated Booth and the Klemens Family, who took home both the People's Choice Award and Best Spirit.

The city awarded more than $3,000 in cash to the winning teams. A panel of community members selected the top three Best Overall teams, while the public voted for Best Spirit, Best Decorated Booth and the People's Choice Award.

Other teams that participated in this year's chili cook-off include Super Shounak's Super Sonic Tonic, El Viaje Misterioso, The Musical Fruit, Karate Kids, Lounge Lizard and Chili Chili Bang Bang.

Attendees of the event paid $5 for a ticket that included five tastings and a voting ballot. The cook-off brought out about 4,000 people, city officials said.

All teams were restricted to making a traditional red chili, home style chili, chili verde or veggie chili. Competitors were also separated into a corporate division that received a $300 stipend for participating and an open division that received a $500 stipend.

In addition to the chili, the event also featured a live performance by Radio City All-Stars Band, a kids area with bouncy houses, outdoor lawn games, face painting and food trucks.


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Tom from Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2019 at 11:09 am

Tom from Midtown is a registered user.

I didn't find anything online for MB's Place, but there are recipes for Ratrod chile (from the Mercury News in 2010!) and Hangover (not Hung Over), from Chicago. Anyone know if the Ratrod recipe is close to the one that came in second? (Web Link) The recipe looks like it would take 4+ hours to cook, so at least it's a serious chili recipe!

13 people like this
Posted by South Court Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2019 at 11:25 am

South Court Resident is a registered user.

Chili tastings were reported to start at 1:30. I got in line at 1:45, stood in line for a full hour and only got 3 tastings before all the contestants were out of food (I ate chili 1 while standing in line for chili 2, etc.). So by 2:45 all the chili was gone.Seems to me you should either sell less tickets or tell the contestants to make more chili!

10 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 5, 2019 at 11:41 am

rsmithjr is a registered user.

My family and I arrived at very shortly after 2:30PM. The ticket sales had stopped and all of the chili was gone. People were leaving.

I tried to find the people in charge. I was told that that is the way that it was.

We have come to this event for a number of years and have enjoyed it. I never had a problem. I can recall buying a second ticket and going back to some of the other vendors to try their samples. Apparently people could barely visit three this year.

This is a ridiculous waste of city funds if it is not going to be run in a way that makes a reasonable holiday event. We might as well make the park open to people to make family reservations for the space.

Like this comment
Posted by Eric V
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 5, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Eric V is a registered user.

Thanks, Tom, for the recipe for Ratrod from 2010. I don't think it's the one that came in 2nd since the recipe looks like it'd be a "red" chili (lots of chili powder and tomato sauce) whereas they were serving a chili verde yesterday.

Like this comment
Posted by MB’S Place
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2019 at 12:29 pm

MB’S Place can be found on social media. @yenom1st #mbsplace

2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 5, 2019 at 12:57 pm

I went over to the event, just a few blocks away from my home. I got there in time to buy 5 tickets. I bought them but never used them. I was hungry so I stood in a reasonably short line to get a chicken kabob, a polish sausage on a bun, and garlic fries. I shared them with my neighbor who I took to the event. People kept asking me 'Which line are you in?' I kept telling them 'This short one'. They were in the really long line, backed all the way across the field from a chili booth...not sure which one. I'm guessing they were backed up 40-50 deep to get to the booth with the best chili. It might have been the winner but I'll never know. I enjoyed the food, the entertainment, and the friendly people around us. But I did something different this year. I roved around the area and took pics of dogs. This event is a time and venue where dog owners like to show off their dogs. You can see all my photos on Facebook...just search for Gale Johnson. Enjoy them! I've also written stories about this event for my Life Stories class. If you'd like to read them just ask me by requesting them at my email address: ggandglj@yahoo.com

3 people like this
Posted by Midtown Local
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2019 at 5:01 pm

Midtown Local is a registered user.

I arrived around 2, got a beer, and got my chili tickets. First stop was as the Klemens booth, which had a shortish line that went much faster than the other lines. After that, my strategy was like South Court Resident's in that I ate the previous chili while I was in line for the next, but the other part of the strategy was picking short lines. I did get kicked out of a couple lines when they ran out of chili, but managed to spend all 5 tickets. My last one was MB's which was fantastic, so I'm not so unhappy about missing a couple.

I do agree that it would be better if the booths made more chili so one didn't need to be quite so strategic at an event that's supposed to be enjoyable. Fast lines (like the Klemens')! Lotsa chili!

3 people like this
Posted by Eric Nielsen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 6, 2019 at 12:36 pm

Music is always too loud for enjoying family and friends. Whom ever runs this event doesn’t have a good grasp of event layout, but their were good things as well:

The good:

1. Refined voting method was very smart and much easier

2. Allowing vendors to hand out cups meant lines went twice as fast
Because they had several cups ready and waiting. This would
Explain why chili ran out quicker.

3. Extra food and stuff was well planned for a big event.

The bad:

1. No community participation, ideas here:

o chili team intros in circle
o a few public speeches about community
o some stand up and meet someone new moments
o chili joke humor/comedian
o best 3yh July dress up contest

2. A better dance environment, a host/hosted that MC’d the event
With a better schedule

3. No chili booth recruitment m, easily could get 25 booths

The Ugly

1. Noise management was horrible

- Food trucks by music area meant generator buzz was
bathing the blanket seating area.

- This is a social event, not a rock concert, volume of music
was twice as loud as needed. The shoreline concert in the
Evening was easier to talk at.

If noise and community is not fixed, this event will just be a waste of
A great opportunity. So much potential wasted because you can’t
Talk m. Whomever decided to put big speakers facing the chili lines
And blasting t music must clear not understand the community in which they are managing this event.

I hope these comments reach the city folks who work hard o. This event.


1 person likes this
Posted by Julian Gómez
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 6, 2019 at 7:16 pm

Julian Gómez is a registered user.

The lines got too long a few years ago, and it became evident that without parallel processing (members of a group standing in different lines at the same time) it was going to be nigh impossible to get five samples. This year I skipped the festival, which appears to have been a good decision.

1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2019 at 7:31 pm

I have only been once to this occasion and was sadly disappointed meaning I haven't been back since.

As a first timer, we had no idea what to expect and found it very difficult to learn. We paid for a "kit" but had no idea what to expect so walked around, not understanding we were supposed to be lining up. As the chili pots emptied we still had not used our tickets and as only one was vegetarian, the vegetarian paid for 5 tickets only able to eat 1. We hung around waiting for results but nothing happened so we left.

Many families were there having fun, but there was not enough to keep a group of adults amused.

It is a shame that Palo Alto cannot actually do anything better. Perhaps some time of talent competition with the chili tasting not being the main draw, since it is a poorly planned tasting event.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

From the owner of LV Mar and La Viga, a Palo Alto restaurant inspired by Mexico City
By Elena Kadvany | 4 comments | 3,809 views

Can you Pay to Reduce your Carbon Footprint?
By Sherry Listgarten | 10 comments | 2,657 views

You Can Help: Scents and Migraines
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,248 views

Truth Matters (and so does good beer)
By Laura Stec | 9 comments | 1,993 views

No jacket no problem
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 840 views