Winnipeg man named chili champ at World Food Championships
Wayne Shymko wins World Open Chili Championship in Kissimmee, Florida
A Winnipeg man is a world chili champ after topping professional chefs with his home-cooked creation at the World Food Championships in Florida.
Wayne Shymko won the World Open Chili Championship, which is part of the World Food Championships, in Kissimmee, Florida, over the weekend.
He led the pack of 26 competitors, including hotel chefs and competitors from TV cooking shows, to win a $10,000 US prize.
"We kind of figured if we finished, you know, 13th [or] 14th overall we'd be really happy with that," Shymko told CBC's Up to Speed program on Monday. "But yeah, to finish first is just unreal."
Shymko, who cooks as a hobby, and another Winnipeg team qualified for the World Food Championships by scoring top marks at the Kleefeld Honey Festival's chili cook-off — a Canadian qualifying event this year — in Kleefeld, Man., in August.
"The other teams that we were competing [against], they kind of intimidated us a little bit when we first got there. It's like wow, it was some ... very recognizable names," he said.
"There [were] a couple of people that had been on Chopped and there was one guy that, you know, he had a Ritz-Carlton chef's jacket on and we were, 'Holy crow, what did we get ourselves into here?'"
Shymko said the big competition involved cooking a traditional "red chili," followed by a tailgating-themed "structured" dish that uses a sponsor company's chili beans.
For the tailgating dish, he made potato skins stuffed with chili with pineapple salsa on it. That entry landed Shymko in the top 10 and the finals on Sunday.
The finals called for a freestyle dish, and Shymko said he delivered what he calls "margarita chili."
"We used a margarita glass with coleslaw in the bottom, chili in the middle, some salsa and shrimp around the outside, and that's what won," he said.
But he's not done yet. Shymko will vie for the $100,000 US grand prize in the "Final Table" competition" — a "best in show" type of category — on Tuesday.
He will go up against eight other champs in burgers, pasta, dessert, seafood, bacon, barbecue and other delicious categories.