You’ve planned everything for your chili cook off. The invitations are sent, you’ve figured out your decorations and your chili accompaniments. You know how many entries you have. Now, how do you score the competition? Does everyone vote or do you use judges? How do you figure out the winner? Below are some ideas to help you.
If everyone votes:
- For a straightforward vote, have everyone at the party taste each chili and vote for their favorite. At the web site Chica and Jo’s, Chica’s suggestion was to give everyone a small token, like a poker chip, as they entered the competition. Then each chili entry would have a can covered with a lid with a slit cut in it for “votes”. Each person votes for their favorite by putting their chip into the can for the chili they liked the best. The lid keeps the votes from view, and the voting process is simple.
- If you have a lot of entries, too many for each person to try, Chica and Jo also have a more complex voting system, based on a number of different criteria, to make it fair. Check out their voting ballot template and scoring worksheet to see how they judge entries. This could work for judges as well.
- Rachel Ray’s web site has a good scorecard. You just print it out and voila it’s ready for your competition. It’s very straightforward with adding scores to determine the winner. This scorecard only works for three entries though. If you had more than three chili recipes to try, you’d have to tweak it. This scorecard would work for judges as well as the entire party.
If only judges vote:
The following tips are best standard practices for judges.
- Use a separate spoon for each entry – no double dipping!
- Be sure to clear the palate between tastings (see the Fritos post).
- Don’t discuss judging as it’s happening.
- If a judge has food allergies, they need to let the head judge or person in charge know before beginning.
Here is an example of a judging form or make your own!
Hope this helps and good luck!