The third annual NYChilifest will be taking place inside New York City’s Chelsea Market on the evening of Jan. 27, and it’s much more than just a bunch of people handing out chili.
The festival is the brainchild of butcher Jake Dickson, who’s been selling meat inside the famed market for three years, and it’s a way for him to maintain his "whole animal" philosophy while supporting a good cause and also giving some of the city’s most noted chefs the opportunity to expand their culinary horizons by cooking up a popular dish that they might not have ever made before.
"The festival came out of necessity," Dickson told The Daily Meal. "We do full-animal butchery, but during the holidays there’s not much of a demand for ground beef. After the Christmas demand we’re left with lots of meat, and we can’t sell it to restaurants because it’s their slow season."
And thus the NYChilifest was born. Dickson has assembled some of the city’s top chefs, and as opposed to most other competitions (which require the participants to bring their own food and equipment) all they need to do is cook and serve. Each chef receives at least 50 pounds of meat and everything they need to make their chili, and Dickson is reimbursed by taking a small cut of the entry fee.
All the money that’s left over is donated to Food Systems Network, which is dedicated to connecting the city with upstate farms and helping to develop infrastructure to bring local food to the parts of the city that need it most. Last year the festival raised $20,000 for the network.
"There are some great prizes for the winners," Dickson added. "No matter what you specialize in, every chef likes making chili. They take it dead seriously. Every year it gets better, and this year it will be great."
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.