Beans are not allowed in the official competition chilies at the second annual IDAHO STATE CHILI COOK-OFF, but organizers still expect the event to be a real toot... er, hoot. On Saturday, countless chili enthusiasts will descend upon Silver Mountain Resort to sample the best chili the Gem State has to offer.
For a $5 donation, chili lovers can eat to their bowels' content. The fee covers the tasting kit: a napkin, spoon, a 2-ounce cup and a ballot to select the People's Choice winner. (Beano not included.)
"I'm anticipating a fun, active environment," says Aimee Lundberg, interim events coordinator for Silver Mountain. Lundberg added that the entertainment value of the cook-off should be enhanced by BrewsFest, a beer-tasting social with live music occurring simultaneously.
Lundberg expects the lethal combination of beer and chili to have explosive results -- fitting, perhaps, given the mining and labor history of Kellogg, Idaho. But the chili cooks take the event seriously, she explains, and the winners of each division will advance to nationals.
"This is a big deal," Lundberg says. The cook-off is sanctioned by the International Chili Society. "I thought, at first, it was a community thing. It's not. It's a statewide thing."
This year, contestants will receive gift certificates and awards. The winners will earn historic coins. As for exotic and unique chili recipes, Lundberg predicts that contestants will not stray much from well-defined categories.
"There are three categories they need to get within," Lundberg says -- traditional red chili, chili Verde and salsa. That's for the official competition -- though things can get a little more creative for the People's Choice chilies. Lundberg expects about 25 cooks to participate.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Staff House museum, a locale housing a historic collection from the Bunker Hill Mining and Smelting Company. The Bunker Hill galena lode was discovered by Noah Kellogg -- or his donkey, if you believe the legend -- in 1885, and the company operated in the Coeur d'Alene mining district for nearly a century. No word on whether Noah or his donkey ate chili. It might have helped them blast holes in the mountainside.
-- TIM BROSS
Idaho State Chili Cook-off is Saturday, July 28, from 11 am-5 pm at Silver Mountain Resort, 610 Bunker Ave., Kellogg, Idaho. Admission: $5 donation. Visit www.SilverMt.com or call (208) 783-1111.
DINING Royal Treatment
What's in a name? Plenty, if it finally cures the Curse of the Revolving Restaurant Door. DUKE'S WATERFRONT is the latest incarnation of a longstanding Hayden Lake Drive restaurant location. (I remember it from four incarnations ago, back when it was called Turtles.) As for the new name, think John Wayne, the Duke of Earl, Duke Ellington -- though it's actually named for the family dog, say owners Cynthia and Craig Helgren, who took over the business when the Lake Place dried up last year.
Although lighthearted about naming the restaurant, the Helgrens are serious about Duke's, to which they bring 20-plus years experience, much of it with the West Coast-based Chart House. Most recently, Cynthia, who manages food operations, managed Everett's and the Lake Place, whose owners now lease to the Helgrens.
Keeping open through the winter and developing a local following is key, says Craig. Duke's has thus downsized the menu and its prices (because waterfront living is beyond most of us already; this way, you get the million-dollar view, at least for a little while). They've added daily specials like Taco Tuesday, a Thursday spaghetti feast and a clam feed on Friday nights. Renovations to the modest, two-room waterfront eatery have been minimal, with some flat screen monitors and decorations in the cozy fireplace room. Outside, the well-fed ducks and fish still meander under the full-length deck that affords a idyllic view of Hayden.
Appetizers include wings ($8), shrimp cocktail ($10) and spinach-artichoke dip ($7), which was dense with garlic and cheese, served with toasted crisps of garlicky bread.
In addition to soups and salads and burgers, dinner offerings range from rib eye ($25) to salmon ($20) to something called chicken Jalfrezi ($17), a curry stir-fry with onions, garlic and pepper sauce.
Duke's serves weekend brunch from 9:30 am-12:30 pm. The menu includes omelets, huevos rancheros and eggs benedict for $10 -- or $15 if you want a bottomless glass of bubbly.
To get to Duke's, walk, drive or boat over. Parking the boat at one of Duke's 18 boat slips might be easier than parking your car along this busy, narrow roadway, although there is limited parking at the marina next door.
-- CARRIE SCOZZARO
Duke's Waterfront, 3799 E. Hayden Lake Dr., Hayden Lake, Idaho, is open Mon-Fri 11:30 am-10 pm, Sat-Sun 9:30 am-early afternoon. Call (208) 772-5057.