Photo by Hannah Koehler

Jo’s 16th Annual Chili Cook-Off is taking place on Sunday, February 5th from noon to 3pm. 

The Chili Cook off is a perfect winter day in Austin with chili, dancing, and beer all to raise funds to fight food insecurity in Austin. 10-15 contestants each prepare 8 gallons of chili on-site, starting early in the morning. Rules stipulate that nothing can be cooked ahead of time, only chopped and ye – beans are allowed. At noon, the gates open and a discerning, hungry crowd appears ready to taste them all and choose a winner. All along, you can grab a beer from the bar and dance in the parking lot to the tunes of Jeff Hughes & Chaparral as well as the Jo’s House Band. 1st and second place is judged by a select group of local industry folks:

Chris Young – 2022 Chili Cook Off Winner

Chef Kirk – Executive Chef at Ocho / Hotel Havana

Thomas Malz – Executive Chef at Carpenter Hotel / Carpenters Hall

Erin Ashford – Co-Owner and Bar & Service Director at forthcoming Holiday

Matthew Odam – Restaurant critic and reporter at the Austin American-Statesman

Photo by Hannah Koehler

The crowd favorite is determined by tasters submitting their tasting tickets to their favorite team– tasting tickets allow you to taste them all and cost $25 with the full cost going to our benefactor, Free Lunch.

Some teams have joined the cook off for many years, including Carne Knowledge, Popes of Chilitown, Buckeye on the Bayou, and long-time competitor: The Wild Bunch

Photo by Hannah Koehler

Free Lunch ATX is a collective of Austin creatives who reduce food insecurity by cooking and serving food at Camp Esperanza. Their meal support program is funded by their quarterly magazine. Monthly magazine subscribers are nicknamed “Lunch Monitors” and it was with their support that Free Lunch was able to make over 100,000 meals in our first year.

Raffle winners receive 1 Night at Hotel San José, $100 Lounge Gift Card, HEB Kodi Cooler, and a year supply of Topo Chico.

Photo by Hannah Koehler

Mid way through the tasting, contestants are given 15 minute to shop a pop up of HEB produce and make a dish revealed to them in real time, also known as the “Quick Fire Challenge.” The dish is judged by HEB chefs and the winning team receives a $250 gift card to HEB.

Attendance is free, tasting is $25 for all you can taste, with proceeds going to Free Lunch. 

Amateur and professional cooks will go head to head to compete for the best chili, while attendees can sample them all and enjoy an afternoon of chili-related festivities, from watching the surprise Quick Fire Challenge and listening to live music from Jeff Hughes & Chaparral and the Jo’s House Band, to entering a raffle benefitting Free Lunch, a local organization that works to end food insecurity in Austin by providing fresh food to our neighbors experiencing homelessness. 

Join Jo’s for a day of live music, cold beer, and chili as they host their 16th Annual Chili Cook-Off benefiting Free Lunch on Sunday, February 5 from noon to 3 pm in the SoCo parking lot. Guests have the option to purchase a $25 wristband the day-of the event to taste chili from some of Austin’s best restaurants, past cook-off champs and amateur culinary talent, while entry to attend the event is free, where locals can enjoy live music from Jeff Hughes & Chaparral and the Jo’s House Band or enter the raffle for prizes from a stay at Hotel San Jose to a year’s supply of Topo Chico. Winners will be announced at 3 pm. More info here