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Hold the Jalapeño

A winning chili doesn't have to burn tongues in Crock-Pot contest.

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Closing Room owner Scott Anderson settles in for his birthday today with a few bowls of his favorite cold-weather comfort food at the watering hole's sixth annual Chili Cook-Off. And here's a tip, if you're going to enter a Crock-Pot of the beefy dish: Lay off the heat. "Make a basic stick-to-your-ribs type of chili that's middle-of-the-road and everyone can enjoy. It's not too spicy and not too bland," says Anderson. "Everybody likes a good zing, but it's not a requirement."A five-judge panel will rate each chili, with the winning chef pocketing $150 and the coveted "Golden Ladle" trophy. Bar patrons will also cast votes on their favorites by spending 75 cents for a two-ounce "taste" of chili or $2 for a six-ounce bowl. There's no word on whether reigning champ Pat Roundtree will re-enter his steak, bacon, and sausage combo. But Anderson's mom, Lee, is ready to put her chicken-and-white-bean recipe up to the test. And Lakewood housing inspector Dave Kulsar plans to defend his People's Choice award and $100 prize. "He brings in co-workers and family members to vote for him," says Anderson. "He's done so much for my business that I've pretty much created a category just for him."To add to the party, the bar's TVs will blare football games followed by an 11 p.m. show by rockers Sister Morphine. "Chili is a good cold-weather food on a Saturday afternoon, and there's always an NFL playoff game on TV," says Anderson. "What could be better? You get to eat chili and watch some football." The competition starts at 3 this afternoon at the Closing Room, 13813 Lorain Avenue. Admission is free. Call 216-688-1670.
Sat., Jan. 12, 3 p.m., 2008

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