Start your engines — and stoves — a car show/chili cook-off combo kicks off the post-Labor Day season in Hicksville on Sunday, Sept. 8.
The day will feature over 800 cars on display ranging from custom cars to hot rods to muscle cars. Attendees can snack at food trucks and shop among a field of vendors as a DJ spins oldies. Competition will heat up as chefs go head-to-head in the chili cook-off.
“Each pot of chili must be cooked on premises during the event,” says Leo Cerruti, president of the New York Autofest, which is organizing the event with the Hicksville Fire Dept. Hose Co. 4. “We have official judges, plus the public can taste each chili and vote for which one they like best.”
Here are five chefs who will be firing up their pots:
“I grew up cooking,” says Cipriano, 37, of Huntington, who was raised with a pizza oven in his backyard and now runs his own pizza truck. “I come from a big Italian family who always likes to try new foods from different cultures.”
In the chili cook-off, he is facing off against his wife, Jennifer, and mother, Carmela. The trio won The Food Network’s "Family Food Showdown" in March.
“Before we competed together as a team, now we will be competing against each other,” he says.
His spicy beef based chili will feature Italian long hot peppers, onions, celery, carrots, ground beef and secret seasonings.
By day, she’s a TV producer at “The Dr. Oz Show,” but Cipriano, 32, of Huntington, also knows her way around the kitchen. But in the Cipriano family, that room can get crowded.
“We are always kicking each other out of the kitchen,” she says. “Everyone thinks they are the boss.”
Cipriano is pulling out her mother's chili recipe that she grew up eating.
“I slow cook it with a pounds of finely chopped bacon, onion, mustard, a variety of beans including butter beans,” says Cipriano. “However, there are some special ingredients I won’t reveal.”
Hailing from Amantea, Italy, Cipriano is ready to lay down the gauntlet with her son Marciano and daughter-in-law Jennifer.
“I taught them both how to cook so if they win, I won,” says Cipriano, 64, of Huntington, who works on her son’s food truck. “I’m the mother, so I’m the boss.”
She claims her chili was compiled from bits and pieces from various recipes.
“My chili has a little heat to it,” she says. “I add these little Calabrian chili peppers my husband grows that give it a kick.”
Her ingredients include extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, Bermuda onions, tomato paste, tomatoes from her garden, hand soaked red beans and a mix of veal, pork and beef. She serves the finished product with cheddar cheese and sour cream plus a side of garlic bread.
Smith can be considered a chili connoisseur as he has been competing for 10 years, scoring first place wins in contests at the Greenlawn Fire Department and Miracle Mile in Manhasset.
“I try to get into as many chili competitions as I can,” says Smith, 52, of Lindenhurst, whose team is called Ring of Fire. “I’m usually always in the top 5.”
His chili, called Fire Breath, is a standard meat chili using pork, ground beef and different cuts of steak — sometimes he even throws in venison. He also includes poblano and jalapeño peppers, garlic, sage and paprika.
“I’m constantly changing it,” he says. “I expect to win.”
Last month Darrow took first prize at Mr. Beery’s chili cook-off in Bethpage and now he’s ready for another title.
“I love to cook,” says Darrow, 50, of Levittown, whose team is called Country Heat. “Everything I make is from scratch. I use only fresh ingredients from my garden. There’s no hot sauces or powdered spices. It’s all homemade.”
In his red chili, Darrow uses no beans but rather fresh tomatoes, five kinds of peppers, basil, oregano and beef bone broth with celery, onions and carrots.
“The bone broth makes the chili very flavorful,” he says. “It brings it all together.”
NEW YORK AUTOFEST & HICKSVILLE FIRE DEPT. HOSE CO. 4 CAR SHOW & CHILI COOK-OFF
WHEN|WHERE 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8 in the former Sears parking lot, Nevada Street in Hicksville.
INFO 516-882-5022, nyautofest.com
ADMISSION $5 (free younger than 12), $25 show cars