After years of watching his wife, Colleen, twice win the prestigious Chili Appreciation Society International division at the Lenexa Chili Challenge, Rudy Lintner won one for himself.
“I finally got a first place,” Rudy said. “I’ve placed several times since we’ve been cooking chili but Colleen usually beats me. I guess I got lucky.”
“Oh, I let him win now and then,” Colleen responded with a laugh. “I haven’t decided when I’ll let him win again. But it’s all right as long as it stays in the same house.”
C.A.S.I. chili has meat and spices only, no beans or other fillers. Homestyle chili includes any kind of meat and whatever fillers the cook likes. First place in C.A.S.I. division at the Lenexa Chili Challenge qualifies the winner for next year’s International Chili Championship in Terlingua, Texas.
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After five years of helping a friend at the contest, the Lintners, who live in Shawnee, formed their team — Toad Chokin’ Chili — in 2000. A few years later Rudy started his own team, Dudes Dump. “We decided to double our fun,” Rudy said. “Colleen enters several categories each year but I only enter C.A.S.I.”
“We never change our recipes although this year I added tomato paste to make it redder,” Rudy said. “We’re friendly competitors. We have a good time competing. We each want to win, of course. But it’s chili, not life or death. No family fights.”
“We’re happy when either of us wins,” Colleen added. “We enter 16 or 17 contests a year. Lenexa is still our favorite. We’ve made so many friends over the years. By now we know nearly everyone there.”
About 6,000 attended the two-day event last weekend in Old Town Lenexa, said Lindsay Hart, recreation superintendent of the Lenexa Parks and Recreation Department. “On Friday the children played games and adults danced to the Saucy Jack band. Winners were announced Saturday afternoon,” she said.
Colleen Lintner is in an elite group of two-time C.A.S.I. winners at the Lenexa Challenge. She won her first title in 2003, placed second in 2005, fifth in 2006 and first place again in 2013. The only other double winners are Larry Velasquez of Mission, who won back to back in 2010 and 2011, and Jerri Dowdy of Kansas City, Kan., who won in 2006 and 2009.
Colleen also won first place in the Homestyle division in 2006 and was second this year behind Keith Kissinger of Shawnee and his Riley’s Homestyle Chili team.
First place in the C.A.S.I. and Homestyle divisions receives $200 gift certificates, plaques and blue ribbons. Second receives a $125 gift certificate and third a $50 certificate. Winners of the individual categories receive $50 gift certificates, second $20 and third $10.
Amanda Schurman-Chard and her Paradise Spice Team placed second in the C.A.S.I. division for the second year in a row. “I wanted first place, of course, but second isn’t too bad,” she said. “Hopefully, I can find more friendly judges next year. I finished fourth in Homestyle so it was a pretty good day. I use the same basic recipe in both but add beans, onions and garlic in Homestyle.”
Amanda, who lives in Ottawa, Kan., took over the Paradise Spice team last year when her stepfather, Tom Schriver, retired after competing in the Lenexa contest for 18 years.
Barry Conklin of Shawnee and his team, Kansas City Salsa, won first place in the Salsa division. “I’ve been entering the Lenexa contest more than 10 years and this is my first big win. I really like salsa. I put it on eggs, bagels, Mexican, everything. I like it hot but I keep it mild for the contest.”
“My wife, Lisa, urged me to enter years ago and I said no. She entered me anyway and here I am,” he said. “I think it just comes down to finding judges who like it.”
Dave Capps, Valley Park, Mo., and his Chili Joint team won the Showmanship category again year. He’s entered the Chili Challenge three years and won each year.
Sean Moran and his Magical Fruit Chili team, which includes 18 longtime friends, won first place in the fund-raising category by raising $2,333 of the $7,889 total for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. “We also call ourselves the Wrong Side of the Tracks team because we all live on the wrong side of the railroad tracks in downtown Lenexa,” Moran said.
“We’ve been friends since we used to take our sons on Boy Scout camp- outs years ago. We raised the money by serving chili, hot dogs and water for donations to the foundation,” Moran said. “We cooked more than 30 pots of chili.”