The Great Chili Cook-Off, a Louisville tradition, returns this weekend

Do you put noodles in your chili?

A bowl of chili with cheese and onions.

Eat it by the bowlful — Louisville’s Great Chili Cook-Off is this weekend.


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Is there anything that says, “fall” quite like a bubbling pot of hot chili, filling the air with its heart-warming, spicy aroma?

Louisville’s Great Chili Cook-Off is this weekend, where local restaurants and chili aficionados alike will compete to see whose bowl brings the most heat — great timing with the, um, chilly, autumnal temperatures on the way.

🥣The details

The Cook-Off is an annual tradition that dates to 1989, with proceeds benefiting Norton Children’s Hospital.

Several local establishments like Four Pegs, Steak and Bourbon, and Against the Grain will all have entries this weekend, and in years past we’ve even gotten into the act — our own City Editor Katie entered last year.

You may need to bring extra antacids — the Cook-Off, which is held on E. Market Street in NuLu, has grown into a two-day event. New this year, a car show will take place on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 12 to 7 p.m. The main event, the cook-off itself, will be held Sunday, Oct. 15 from 12 to 6 p.m.

Two entries will be crowned — in the restaurant and individual categories — bringing home a $2,500 prize each. Second-placed selections win $500.

Chili on a bed of fritos.

Noodles? Maybe a frito bowl instead?

Photo by @billyschili

🍝Noodles? In chili?

This weekend’s cook-off sparks an age-old debate in the Derby City this time of year — do noodles belong in chili?

If you’re a local, the answer to that question might be obvious, but if you’re a new Louisvillian, still learning the unwritten rules of the the ‘Ville, you might be scratching your head.

Perhaps it’s a connection to the city’s Midwestern neighbors, but spaghetti noodles are commonly found in chili bowls across Louisville.

See for yourself — several local restaurants across town include chili on the menu, with or without the noodles.