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What: 12th annual Chili Cook Off and Classic Car Show
Who: Mother Lode Rehabilitation Enterprises Inc.
Where: Pollock Pines-Camino Community Center, 2675 Sanders Drive in Camino
When: Saturday, Sept. 14 starting at 10 a.m.
Cost: $5 donation to taste chili
Information: morerehab.org or call 530-622-4848
It’s just a bunch of beans, until Vern and Lori George bust out a barn-burning batch of chili.
The Pollock Pines couple will be cooking up a fresh pot of their award-winning recipe this Saturday, Sept. 14, at the 12th annual Chili Cook Off and Classic Car Show at the Pollock Pines-Camino Community Center, competing with 22 others who will try to convince a panel of judges that their chili should be champ.
It’s all to benefit Mother Lode Rehabilitation Enterprises Inc., popularly known as MORE, which serves the West Slope of El Dorado County with its services geared toward helping developmentally disabled residents.
Vern and Lori recently stirred up a special batch of their prize-winning chili, showing how they have managed to garner half-a-dozen awards — and counting — for their efforts.
Lori, 50, said the couple virtually always gets a first- or second-place win, but the true honor, she added, is when they are named the winners of the People’s Choice award. That’s an honor the Georges have gratefully accepted on several occasions.
They’ll have some stiff competition Saturday, however, with onions, tomatoes and jalapeños flying as the cooks stir up their entries at the community center, where they are required to prepare the chili for the competition.
Each entry pays $10, for the privilege of being considered by the judges, for an event T-shirt — and for the chili tasting, of course.
Event-goers look forward each year to heaping bowls of the competing chili, with plenty to go around since the generous competitors enjoy sharing their skills with the public.
A donation of $5 is suggested and folks will be asked to vote for their favorite, for the People’s Choice award.
“We make about 8 gallons, so that everybody who attends gets some chili,” assured Lori, as she paused briefly in her chopping duties at Placerville Moose Lodge No. 1979 in Camino, which sponsors the Georges in the chili cook off.
Lori and Vern have been competing in the MORE benefit for about six years, she added.
“We enjoy the whole event,” she said. “We see a lot of people we know there and make new friends, and it’s always fun to chit-chat. We like making our chili but there are so many reasons to go.”
Asked what he enjoys about the chili cook off, Vern answered quick-and-to-the-point: “The eatin’.”
He laughed, stirred the smoked meat that he had browning in a skillet at the Moose Lodge, then added, “The car show is always great, too. There are some really nice rides that show up. It’s just a great day. You’ll find the people are friendly; everyone talks to you like you’re a longtime friend.”
The classic cars line up in the parking lot outside the community center, located at 2675 Sanders Drive near the Post Office and Knotty Pine Lanes.
The Classic Car Show gets under way at 10 a.m. Saturday, and all that mouth-watering chili will be cooked to perfection by noon. If you are of the rare breed that doesn’t hanker for chili, there also will be barbecued beef sandwiches on hand, along with snacks and drinks, including “adult” beverages.
Live music will be provided by the local group, “The Nobs.”
Raffles will feature prizes donated by local merchants, including haircuts and massages.
“The community really pitches in,” noted Lori.
All proceeds will benefit MORE and the adults with disabilities that organization serves.
While Lori and Vern George have raised six kids on their chili, which they say they enjoy several times a week at home, they are not the only ones who appreciate its qualities.
“I had a guy at one competition up at Robbs Resort tell me it tasted just like the chili his mom used to make. I told him, ‘That’s funny, it tastes just like my mom’s, too,'” Vern, 61, said.
“That just the thing about our chili, it’s really pretty basic as far as the spices and other ingredients we use,” added Lori. “I guess the secret is the TLC.”
Of course, if there really is a “secret” ingredient in the award-winning Vern and Lori George chili, that would be, well … secret.
Vern said all the other more than 20 entries in this year’s cook off are challenging, but he particularly looks forward to going head-to-head, jalapeño-to-jalapeño, with Pete Messimore, representing A Helping Hand Home Care.
“Pete knows his chili,” said Vern, wiping a hand on his chili-pepper red tank top.
For more information on the MORE 12th annual Chili Cook Off and Classic Car Show visit morerehab.org or call 530-622-4848.