Since the Chili Challenge (for the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester) is coming up Thursday afternoon from 4 - 8, let's go back in time to when I judged the amazing chili offerings the first time and rediscover the HUGE lesson I learned from one of Rochester's greatest chefs.

First tho...if you want to buy tickets for the Chili Challenge, click HERE. I'll be there judging, so if you see me, I'll give you the lowdown.

Chili Challenge is a family-friendly event to generate community and financial support for Boys & Girls Club of Rochester. Over 2,500 attendees will sample chilies from more than 25 participants including local businesses, restaurants, and other community representatives. The event will offer family activities, music, decorated booths, and a variety of chilies and other foods to enjoy. Attendees of our popular Homebrew Contest will sample beer made by dozens of local homebrewers and Rochester’s craft breweries! (Chili Challenge)

Here's the deal, if you're a food judge and Johnny Mango is one of the judges, you're in a special place. This man knows a thing or two about food and he is not stingy about sharing his passion...and food.

Take the Chili Challenge. Johnny brought a tray of extras. Apricots, dried cherries, nuts, prosciutto, and feta. Oh, and a fruity kind of balsamic vinegar.

Before last night, I never would never have paired chili with any of those things, but now, I'll want it handy anytime chili's on the menu. They did things to my mouth that made the experience amazing. The prosciutto and feta helped cool off your mouth, and clear you for the next chili-landing.

If you have a really spicy chili (and you can only taste the heat), 1/2 a teaspoon of the fruity balsamic vinegar cools your mouth and, the next time you taste the chili, you'll taste the flavors below the heat, For me, this meant I could taste cumin in one and another chocolate. Wild, right?

Claudia, the Chili Judge Rangler, rules!

The dried cherries won't get rid of the heat, but it did bring out way more flavor in each chili. Way more. Like, seriously, the chili started treating my mouth like a playground!

And the nuts? Well, for me, that was the most amazing one. This one chili, it was really good. I ate a nut, tried it again, and BAM! Citrus. SO much lime came out, high-fived me, and said 'Howdy-do? "Where'd the citrus come from? I DON'T KNOW!

So, next time you have chili, try it out. It will SO blow your mind. Oh, and include an Ice Cream Chili, too. ((snicker)) that was such a nice surprise!

Chili Challenge 2016