Heated matchup! Super Bowl chili cook-off a hot ticket

Heated matchup! Super Bowl chili cook-off a hot ticket
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

This bowl game was on fire!

Chili fanatics packed into the Lock Yard in Bay Ridge on Super Bowl Sunday for a chili cook-off. Six amateur chefs filed into the Fifth Avenue gastropub near 92nd Street and prepared vats of five-alarm chili (though some said it was more like two-alarm, two-and-a-half tops) for hungry locals. But in the end the winning cook’s secret ingredient wasn’t some arcane pepper grown in the jungles primeval — but patience, said the winning chef.

“Rather than a secret ingredient it’s really a good process to bring the flavors together,” said Bay Ridgite Phillip Hornat. “You grill all the vegetables a head of time, throw the lean beef in the crock pot with the tomatoes, let that simmer and really let the flavors come together. I let it marinade for eight hours.”

Hornat, who hails from Wisconsin, has been perfecting his recipe for the last eight years. The recipe fuses six different chillies and simmers for eight hours before the flavor reaches its pique, according to Hornat. But a hearty chili is nothing without succulent meat, and game day wouldn’t be the same without it, said Hornat.

Good beef is the heart and soul of any chili,” said Hornat. “Chili is one of those things that just feels right for the Super Bowl. It’s cold outside. It warms you up. And that spicy heat keeps you going back for more. I even add a pinch of brown sugar now, after the heat goes down so you get the hint of sweetness. It’s just great to keep tweaking it until you get that final product.”

Six chili cooks duked it out to call themselves the pope of chili town, but in the end barflies voted Hornat’s chili the winner. Hornat took home a $100 gift certificate to Lock Yard and earned a place of honor on the bar’s wall, where a plaque with his name will immortalize the victory.

But the competition wasn’t about the prize for Hornat.

“I honestly didn’t even realize there was a prize,” he said. “I just love to make and share great chili.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Game-day chili: Bay Ridgite Paul Vade Water sampled six vats of chili.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto