Recapping the 38th annual Belleville Chili Cook-off

Recapping the 38th annual Belleville Chili Cook-off

Ellie Geppert

The 38th annual Chili Cook-off was held in downtown Belleville on the weekend of October 8. This culinary event attracts visitors from all over the Greater St. Louis area. Local restaurants and social organizations bring giant vats of their best chili recipes hoping to bring home the top prize. 


“Yeah, that’s what we’re hoping! It’s chilly outside, a good time for chili,” Copper Fire representative Jeremy said.


The employees of Copper Fire, an East Main Street Belleville hotspot, were expecting big crowds this year. Their restaurant won the event in 2019 and placed second this year. Jeremy attributes their success to their unique ingredients. 


“We use a lot of fresh ingredients. It’s not your typical chili, we use a different meat than most people, and we put lots of spices in it,” Jeremy said. 


There were also some non-local vendors. McAllister’s Deli, a national chain, tried their hand at the cook-off for the first time this year. 


“We’re just trying to test out the waters this year, see what we can do,” McAllister’s representative Alex said. 


It was her first year, and she was feeling out of the competition. This year was about taking notes to improve for the next Chili Cook-off. 


“It’s our own recipe that our restaurants make. We just want to see, if we come back next year, what we should do differently,” Alex said. 


Visitors were also excited about the chili tasting at the square. While Kathy from Belleville has been coming for many years, it was her grandson Jake’s first introduction to the festivities. 


“I’ve been coming for, I don’t know how many years,” Kathy said. 


Not all of the visitors have that much experience with the annual event. 


“I’ve been in the area about four years, and I’ve come every year I’ve lived here,” an anonymous Swansea patron said.