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37th Annual JSC FOD
Chili Powered Home Schedule Judging Games Registration Showmanship
Chili cook off

Chili Cook-off

Chili Cook-off

Chili Cook-off

Chili Cook-off

Judging Competition Chili

Teams should visit the Team Guidelines section to read up on some General Rules of the Cook-Off.

Guidelines For JudgesChili Pepper


1. Like chili - Take your judging seriously.
2. Pay attention - Listen to judging instructions.
3. Keep an open mind. Just because it doesn't look or taste like your chili doesn't mean it's not good chili. Use the judging criteria as guides.
4. When it is in front of you, judge each chili as if it were the only chili in the world at that instant. Once you have passed the chili on, you may not re-taste it during judging.
5. Judge each chili on its own merit, do not attempt to compare.
6. Look it over, smell it, and stir chili before tasting. Basically, chili is a meat and gravy combination. Good chilis can be made either with cut (cubed) meat, ground meat (chili grind), or both.
7. Be careful not to burn yourself with stove-hot chili that can numb your taste in a manner similar to super-hot peppers.
8. Don't eat the whole thing. Usually a spoonful or two per chili will be sufficient for judging.
9. Pace yourself. You have several chilis to judge. Take time enough to check the aftertaste and let the afterbite (if any) develop.
10. Clear your palate between tasting the different chilis.
11. You must judge and score each chili. Occasionally you may get a chili with such poor color, consistency, and/or aroma that you just can't bring yourself to taste it. In such instances - you don't have to taste. This is the only case in which a score of zero should be given.
12. Don't discuss chili during judging. If you have any questions, ask the table monitor.

Chili Pepper SCORING

1. Write your name and sign your score sheet. Keep it folded when not entering your scores.
2. You place your score in the score sheet blank that corresponds to the judging number marked on the exterior of the cup you are judging. The table monitor will explain any details.
3. Score on a scale from 0 to 10 (ten is high). Consider all of the factors to arrive at one composite score (a whole number between 0 and 10) that represents your opinion of that chili.
4. As stated above a score of zero should be reserved if, in your opinion, the chili cannot be tasted.
5. Whether you tend to score high or low doesn't matter as long as you are consistent in your scoring pattern.



Each and every cook out here has worked hard all
day in the elements to put together the very best
pot of chili that they could. Keep that in mind
and take your time. Be as fair and impartial with
each of these chilis as you can, as each of them is
as vitally important to someone, as yours is to you



COLOR: Chili should look good (appearance). Allow some leeway when evaluating color. For example, "red" chili may range from reddish to reddish-brown or brown. Not so good are shades of gray, black, yellow, pink, or camouflage. Excessive grease also mars appearance. Lighting conditions vary which can affect color and appearance evaluation.

AROMA: Chili should smell good. A good aroma is a tipoff to good taste. Beware of foreign aromas or just plain bad smells.

CONSISTENCY: Chili should be a good meat and gravy combination. Chili should not be dry, watery, grainy, lumpy, or greasy, but just good and smooth. Meat should be tender but not broken down.

TASTE: Chili should taste good above all else. Although individual opinions will vary, a really good taste will stand out.

AFTERTASTE: Residual taste should be pleasant (not bitter, metallic, or foul). Also present may be afterbite, which is that glow that develops in the mouth (front bite) and throat (back bite) that says this is chili rather than soup or stew. The absence, presence, or level of bite is a matter of personal preference.


JUDGING VARIATIONS: Chilis may vary according to locale. Taste preferences differ. Some judges like it hot, some like it mild, and others prefer spice; but all should like chili. A panel of judges is used so that variations will average out during the judging process. Some chilis will receive widely varying scores. More often the better chilis will receive consistently high marks. Good chili should stand out no matter where it is found or who judges it.

If you think you have identified a particular chili and judge it accordingly, most likely you have scored a different chili. Individual chilis are very difficult to identify when in look-alike containers. Considering that the chilis are randomly selected and then marked with judging numbers prior to being distributed to the judging area, the odds of finding a particular chili are small. Judge each chili on its own merits.

FILLERS: No beans, macaroni, rice, hominy, or similar items will be acceptable.

FOREIGN OBJECTS: Strictly speaking, foreign objects are items not indigenous to competition chili. There are many interpretations of what chili should be. Most would-be "foreign" objects merely are items that affect appearance and should be considered under the color and consistency criteria. For example, small pieces mixed throughout a chili may not seriously mar appearance; however, large chunks of onion, large pepper pieces or whole peppers, large chunks of tomato or bell pepper, garlic pods or big pieces of garlic, many pepper or tomato seeds, herb leaves and stems, etc., all may detract from appearance. Things like olives, carrot chunks, large celery stems, bay leaves, mushrooms, and potatoes have also been known to disturb chili judges decorum.

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