March 13 2013 12:00 AM

Lansing City Market’s first chili cook off will send someone to the BWL big chili dance


Friday, Feb. 15 — Think of the Lansing City Market’s mini chili cook-off as an opportunity to get to Lansing’s flagship chili competition — and to see which merchant can hold the flag for best chili in the market.

On Saturday, the City Market hosts its first Mini Chili Cook-Off, a competition among seven market merchants for the best chili and salsa. The winner of a popular vote earns a chance to compete in the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s annual chili cook-off in May. The event is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the City Market downtown and is open to the public.

“We have said for a while that we wanted to have a presence in the BWL Chili Cook-Off,” said City Market Manager Heather Hymes. “One way to do that is to have our own chili cook-off, which allows us to be team City Market.”

Among those competing for chili bragging rights Saturday are Aggie Mae’s Bakery and Deli, Incu-BaKe, Sgt’s Soups and Sandwiches, Shoua’s Kitchen and Waterfront Bar & Grille.

Schenk’s Salsa from Incu-BaKe and Taco Truck Salsa Factory from Incu-BaKe will heat up the salsa competition.

Aggie Mae’s Bakery and Deli will also offer a fruit salsa — and Waterfront Bar and Grill may serve salsa as well — but their main focus is chili, Hymes said.

Local celebrities Tim Barron, City Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar and BWL Chili Cook-Off Chairman Calvin Jones will be there to help judge the competition.

The Mini Chili Cook-Off is almost entirely localized within the City Market. Only City Market vendors are participating and they are urged to use as many ingredients from the market as possible, Hymes said.

“We are highlighting as best as possible the items from the market,” Hymes said.

Hymes hopes the event will draw visitors to the market during a normally slow time of the year.

“This is a great winter event for us to help bring people in when things are slower than in the summer,” she said. “We need people to come out and try some delicious chili and salsa and help pick someone to send to the big dance.”