2024 Judging

Thank you for your interest in participating as a judge at the 28th Annual Hanover Chili Cook Off. This is a great opportunity to taste and judge entries from some of the best chili cooks in the world, to include multiple World Champions! This cook-off is sanctioned with the International Chili Society (ICS), by the World Food Championships.

The first-place winners in each category will earn a spot to compete at the World Championship Chili Cook-Off®.

There are five ICS chili categories: Traditional Red, Homestyle, Verde, Veggie, Traditional Red Youth and the local Commercial division. The number of judges needed for each category will fluctuate depending on the number of chili cook entries. Spots are limited, so the categories will be filled in the order we receive your judging form.

If you are interested in judging, please click the link below and fill out the information. This entry will officially sign you up for judging. https://forms.gle/ffDypX2rpD4GdYyaA

Once we have received your response you will get a confirmation email confirming your selections.

On Chili Day, September 1, 2024, please arrive at 10:00 am and check in through our Volunteer Tent located in the front of our event on 151 Moul Ave, Hanover PA 17331. ID’s will be checked, so please have them ready. (Entry is free for you at this event for volunteering your time to judge.) Once inside the field, please sign in at the Judge’s tent before 10:30 am. Here you will confirm the categories of chili you want to judge and receive information on what time you will be judging. Judging times will range between 10:30 am – 4:30 pm. You are free to enjoy the events at the Chili Cook Off when you are not judging, however, please note there are three very IMPORTANT ICS rules as a Judge:

  • You are NOT permitied in the cooking area of contestants while they are preparing their competition pot.
  • You are NOT allowed to taste ANY competition chili prior to judging.
  • Alcohol is prohibited in the judging area.

    *A violation of any of these rules may result in the disqualification of the competitor and judge.
    Please return to the Judge’s Tent at your assigned judging time to get a quick briefing and voting sheet by the Chief Judge. Judges will taste each chili submission and rank the top three on their voting sheet. Once your voting sheet is complete, please sign it and turn it into the Chief Judges.

    There are a few things to keep in mind when judging:
  • When tasting chili, refrain from touching the bowl of chili.
  • Dig deep or stir the chili, but do so without touching the bowl.
  • Please use a CLEAN SPOON for each taste.
  • After each taste, you can cleanse your palate with the available palate cleansers.
  • No talking or gestures during judging

    Once your judging is complete, you are free to enjoy all the events at the cook off. Thank you for your interest in supporting this amazing community fundraiser where 100% of net proceeds benefit the local community. We look forward to seeing you September 1st! If you have any questions, please contact us at HanoverCookOff@yahoo.com.


Traditional Red Chili (Includes Youth Red): “Traditional Red Chili” is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden.
Homestyle Chili: Homestyle Chili is any kind of meat, or combination of meats, and/or vegetables cooked with beans, chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients. Homestyle chili may be any color. Beans are required. Preference is not given to either cut, ground, shredded or cubed meat. Seafood is allowed.
Chili Verde: “Chili Verde” is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with green chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden.
Veggie Chili: Veggie is any kind of vegetable or combination of vegetables, cooked with chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients. The use of meat and/or any meat by-product is not allowed. The use of soy and meatless “meat” substitutes is allowed. Veggie chili can be any color. Beans are allowed.
Commercial Chili Competition: Commercial Chili is a locally run competition were local businesses and organizations compete against each other to see who has the best chili in town! There are no official standards. Their chili may have meat or no meat, vegetable or combination of vegetables, be cooked with chili peppers, and/or various spices.

Major characteristics to consider are:
FLAVOR: Above all else, chili should taste good. Although individual tastes will vary, a really good taste will stand out. Chili must have a good chili pepper taste (not too hot, not too mild) TEXTURE of the meat should be tender but not broken down
CONSISTENCY: Chili should be a good meat and gravy consistency. Chili should not be dry, watery, grainy, lumpy, or greasy, just good and smooth.
BLEND OF THE SPICES: Spices and herbs make an important contribution to the chili’s final flavor. They should permeate and accentuate the ingredients but should not overpower the overall flavor.
AROMA: The smell should be pleasing. A pleasing smell usually indicates the ingredients are properly cooked, well combined and balanced.
COLOR: A reddish-brown hue is typically most desirable for any category using red chili peppers. A true-green hue is typically most desirable for Chili Verde. Color can vary considerably.