• Steven Keith

A combo chili-beer fest, plus another ‘Foodie Feast’ twist

There are a couple of nice food events coming up this week and next – one featuring craft beer and competition chili, the other letting you dine out at some of your favorite local restaurants while supporting a good cause.

Wagging Tails and Nitro Ales chili and craft beer fest
Wagging Tails and Nitro Ales chili and craft beer fest

There are a couple of nice food events coming up this week and next – one featuring craft beer and competition chili, the other letting you dine out at some of your favorite local restaurants while supporting a good cause.


Charleston’s “Smoke on the Water” chili cook-off didn’t take place as usual this past June, but the popular event didn’t completely go away either. Its organizers have joined forces with another local event to create the amped-up Wagging Tails and Nitro Ales – Smoke on the Water Edition” chili cookoff and craft beer fest this Saturday in Nitro.


Just how amped-up? Of the nearly 40 cooks signed up to compete this year, 90% of them have cooked in the WORLD Championship Chili Cook-off before. (Translation: You’re in for some wickedly good chili!)


From noon to 4 p.m. at Living Memorial Park on Second Avenue and 21st Street, the public is invited to sample chili, sip beer and shop local vendors, while enjoying local music on tap as well. And since the event is a fundraiser for HospiceCare and Dog Bless animal rescue, dogs are welcome as well!


The cookoff is officially sanctioned by the International Chili Society in the Traditional Red, Verde (green) and Homestyle chili categories, with the winners here representing Nitro in the World Chili Championships in 2022.


Cash prizes also will be awarded for the winners of each category, along with People's Choice Chili, Best Booth Decorations and Best in Kanawha County.


HospiceCare strives to enhance the lives of individuals living with a life-limiting illness and their families by providing quality, compassionate medical, emotional and spiritual care. Comprised entirely of volunteers, Dog Bless has rescued more than 4,000 dogs since 2012.


For more information about Saturday’s cook-off, visit the event’s Facebook page.


With COVID still causing lingering concerns when it comes to hosting events, the YWCA is once again replacing its traditional “Foodie Feast” Thanksgiving-themed brunch with a weeklong Where Foodies Can Feast promotion.


From Nov. 15-20, you can dine in or order out at any of 11 participating restaurants, who will all be donating a percentage of their sales that week to support the YWCA Sojourner’s Shelter for Homeless Women and Families.


Participating locations this year are 1010 Bridge, Barkadas, Ellen’s Ice Cream, Hale House, Ichiban, Lil’ Bit of Heaven Cupcakes, The Lookout Bar & Grill, NOSH, The Pitch Sports Bar & Grill, Rock City Cake Company and Soho’s at Capitol Market.

While the annual Foodie Feast is typically a family-friendly Sunday brunch at a local restaurant with chefs offering a modern take on conventional Thanksgiving favorites, event organizers opted to once again repeat last year’s format of inviting guests to dine own their own at multiple locations instead to support more local restaurants during the pandemic.


Sojourner’s provides homeless single women, women with children, men with custody of their children, intact families and veterans with shelter, counseling, substance abuse intervention, educational advancement, job training and placement. In the last year, the program provided 15,587 nights of shelter for 451 homeless children and adults.


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In other food event news, Charleston’s Mac & Cheese Cookoff this past Saturday at Capitol Market was another ooey, gooey success, raising $30,000 for the Laurence Jones III Childhood Language Center in Charleston.


I had sadly to decline an invitation to judge again this year due to being out of town, but I did get the scoop on this year’s winners.


Including one VERY big winner.

Chef Ke at Charleston's Mac 'n' Cheese Cookoff
Chef Ke at Charleston's Mac 'n' Cheese Cookoff

Newcomer “Chef Ke” – a young, self-taught, home-based private chef and former West Virginia State University student who recently relocated to the Mountain State – won first place in both the Judges Choice and People’s Choice categories at Saturday’s event.


I’m kicking myself for missing out now, but will be looking to taste her handiwork someplace, somehow, sometime very soon.


Rounding out the Judges Choice awards were Big Joe’s in second place and Carnivore BBQ in third. Additional People’s Choice honorees were Children’s Home Society in second and Carnivore BBQ third. Finally, the Kids Choice winners, in order, were Rock Branch Elementary, Piedmont Elementary and Carnivore BBG.


I see some Ke and Carnivore in my future!


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Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at wvfoodguy@aol.com.

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