Woe to anyone who challenges Colorado state Rep. Hugh McKean on chili.

Hugh McKean

Rep. Hugh McKean, celebrating his victory over his House colleagues and total domination over the Senate, which now has a LOT to prove with regard to chile. Photo by Marianne Goodland, Colorado Politics.

The Loveland Republican took top honors Tuesday night in the 2nd annual Great and Honorable Chili Commission cook-off, and he had strong competition from 19 other members of the state House, and three from the state Senate.

Chili crockpots

Some of the 23 chili competitors in the 2019 Great and Honorable Chili Commission cookoff. Photo by Marianne Goodland, Colorado Politics

Your faithful scribe was one of dozen judges in the blind taste test, which included four members of the press, four House Democrats and four House Republicans.

Hooton and Polis

Gov. Jared Polis gets the lowdown on the chili cookoff from Rep. Edie Hooton of Boulder. Photo by Marianne Goodland, Colorado Politics.

Such is the growing renown of the Great and Honorable Chili Commission cook-off that it even drew Gov. Jared Polis and Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera up to the House kitchen to do some tasting.

The competition had the added benefit of two celebrity "Chile DNA Testers"  former journalist Lynn Bartels and Sen. Don Coram of Montrose  to determine if anyone was using New Mexico Hatch chiles in their chili or if the chilis were authentically made with Pueblo chiles.

Lynn Bartels Don Coram

Celebrity Chile DNA Testers Lynn Bartels and Sen. Don Coram. The General Assembly about a week ago debated a bill on genetic testing, so the logical extension was to have genetic testing to determine whether Hatch or Pueblo chiles were involved. Photo by Marianne Goodland, Colorado Politics.

Daneya Esgar and her tattoo

Daneya Esgar's "Death before Hatch" tattoo. Photo by Marianne Goodland, Colorado Politics.

Coram later reported he believed several chilis had Hatch chiles, but the identities of the alleged miscreants are being kept confidential. To quote the movie "A Christmas Story," "those who did it know their blame. And I'm sure the guilt you feel is far worse than any punishment you might receive."

That could include facing the wrath of the Pueblo chile's most ardent defender, Democratic Rep. Daneya Esgar, who is so strong an advocate for Pueblo chile that she has her passion tattooed on her shoulder.

McKean walked off with two trophies: one for Best of House and the other for Best of Dome, given that the Senate sent over three entries this year. 

Lori Saine and Edit Hooton

Reps. Lori Saine and Edie Hooton, moments before the big reveal. Photo by Marianne Goodland (with help from Rep. Lois Landgraf), Colorado Politics.

Without further ado, the winners!

  • Best red, House: Rep. Adrienne Benavidez of Adams County
  • Best green, House: Rep. Susan Beckman of Littleton
  • Best white, House: Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez of Denver
  • Best green, Senate: Sen. Jim Smallwood of Parker, who also went head-to-head with McKean for Best of Dome
  • Best red, Senate: Sen. Rhonda Fields of Aurora

Mad props to Reps. Lori Saine and Edie Hooton for all the work it takes to put on the Great and Honorable Chili Commission cook-off, and a big thank you to whoever cleaned up the House kitchen and the Barney Ford conference room.

Sorry about that.

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