My Award-Winning Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Award-Winning Vegetarian Chili

Each year, before Covid, in the small resort town of Ellicottville, NY, a Texas Chili Party rounded out the summer festivities. Every participant brought their award-worthy chili creation. You may think Texas Chili includes a lot of meat, and for the most part, it does. But I am a vegetarian and decided to enter the contest with a Vegetarian Chili. 

It was a risk, but what the heck? What is the worst that could happen?

Our friends and local neighbors, Travis and Darlene, hosted the contest, and it is an anticipated summer event in our small resort town. The proceeds go to a worthy local charity. Travis and Darlene are the real deal; they also live in Texas, and the party is an authentic Texas-Ellicottville Bash!

My Award-Winning Vegetarian Chili Recipe
Travis and Darlene – The Wonderful Hosts!

We all dress for the occasion. From cowboy hats to bolo ties and fringe. A country band plays as the guests eat, drink and dance under the warm Cattaraugus County summer night.

Year One

In our first year ( the 6th year for the contest), I spent all day cooking and tasting, adjusting, tasting again, and adjusting even more. 

Award-Winning Chili
I’m So Nervous for Her!

Finally, chili delectably done,  I brought my anonymous crockpot to the contest; numbers, not their chefs, identify all chilies.

In walks “Betty (Vickie Rubin) Freakin Crocker” with my Vegetarian option.  Imagine entering a pavilion with 20 plus crockpots of simmering Texas chili. I was a bit overwhelmed and dubious about my chances of winning, placing, or not walking home with an entire crockpot of chili. 

The party was a lively annual event. Music played as we all ate, drank, danced, and talked. Then, finally, it was time to announce the winners. There were two prizes.  

The first prize awarded was BEST OVERALL CHILI GRAND PRIZE, determined by professionals, local chefs,  and restaurant owners. The second prize, FAVORITE CHILI PEOPLE’S CHOICE,  was awarded to the fan-favorite.

Travis and Darlene come up to the podium, and although there was no drum roll – the anticipation was the same as if there was a thunderous bang. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating, but that is how I felt.


After all the announcements and runners up it was time for the Big Grand Prize!

I am not sure I was paying close attention by the time they announced the winner. It was so far from my expectation. Travis and Darlene announced, “And the winner is…Vickie Rubin!” Really! My Vegetarian Chili won the Texas Chili Cook-Off Contest!

Epilogue – I had to defend my title in year two, and had a second win, this time it was Fan Favorite! I am thrilled to share my recipe with you. A bit of a caveat before jumping to the recipe. I often cook without real measurements, I tried to capture the amounts below. Be adventurous, taste, and adjust and you too will have a winning meal!

My Local Michelin Star Award- I Mean Chili Cook Off Award

PS- Mitch talks about my win as if I won the Pulitzer Prize – I am not sure if anything has made him beam like winning these contests. I will try not to analyze that.

Vickie’s Vegetarian Chili
Award Winning- Sweet and Savory
Check out this recipe
My Award-Winning Vegetarian Chili Recipe

See you in a couple of weeks – I am taking a summer break – click here for some published articles….



4 thoughts on “My Award-Winning Vegetarian Chili Recipe

  1. Congrats! What a lovely win and for a vegetarian recipe too. Must be super tasty. Thanks for sharing the recipe too. And the award trophies themselves are so cute!

Would love to hear your comments