About Hardcore Chili
A brief history ... by those who should know!

Picture:Chili Rick
Chili Rick


Picture:Chili Rick Was Here

Chili Rick, how do you start talking about your life? Or your name? In this case, I am going to start in the middle of my life, cause that's where my philosophy and character were formed. I am proud to be a Texan! I am proud to be from a long line of Texans (6 generations) More so, I am, proud to have two beautiful, creative. Intuitive, Texas girls who happen to be the most important things in my life! Tryin' to be a role model for my children is a responsibility that spins me for a loop!!! Lets talk about chili. In 1974, a friend of mine, Mark Sandel introduced me to the world of Chili cook off's. Mark grew up in a small oil town named Iraan, (pronouncd ira-ann) Texas. The World Champion chili Cook off in Terlingua was out in his "neck of the woods". He spent an entire year convincing me that we should pack up and go have some fun. About the middle of October, we decided that we would indeed, make a trip out West. Mark, another friend of ours named Keith Gary, and I loaded down his 1972 Pinto Station wagon and on October 30, 1975 we "lit out" for Terlingua on a "hope and a prayer". (Mainly cause that's all that we had at that time.) Little did I know that the fateful trip would change my life and those around me forever?

In those days, the Terlingua Chili Cook off was a ghost town. If you've never been down to those parts, then you should! Even though it is the desert, it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Don't forget to take a camera! It is 85 miles from the closest town of Alpine. That area happens to be one of the darkest places on Earth.. In fact the McDonald Observatory is located nearby. Observers get a better look at the stars, because they are not competing with city lights.. They're incredibly beautiful! The Observatory supposedly measures the distance from the Earth to the Moon on an every day basis. Needless to say, it is beautiful and the mysteries of the desert are everywhere. Take Marfa, the Marfa lights are seen on a regular basis. There's a standing reward to anyone who can prove what they are, or where they come from.

Having driven to Presidio, stopping for a short visit to Ojinaga, past Lajitas and the beer drinkin goat, we drove the last few miles down the river road to Terlingue (a piece of Heaven on Earth). We rolled into Terlingua on Friday after a 10 hour drive and pitched a tent next to a burnt-down old adobe house in order to block the wind. We rose early on Saturday to begin our first "taste" of Chili.. Just as I emerge from my tent, out of the "burned out" adobe hut comes an old man followed by a young man carrying a sign (no doubt stolen) which was a Texas landmark with an arrow pointing down to the old man he was following. Shortly thereafter, I met one of our real Texas Legends "Hondo" Crouch. He comes up the hill with the young man carrying the sign and nodes to us in an approving way. Little did I know that this man was going to end up being my role model!

I spent the entire day tasting chili and absorbing the event; it's people, sounds, and textures. The chili cook off in those days was very loose, however the "characters" were colorful! During that weekend, I met Hondo, Frank Tolbert, Allegani Jani Schofield (the first woman to win at Terlingua), and of course Frank's chimp. The list is two numerous to name, but all Texas heroes in their own right. We were impressed so much that we decided to form a chili team when we got back to Flower Mound, Texas. In the next few weeks after returning from Terlingua, we cooked several batches of chili.. Finally, we developed a recipe that was edible. I took a bowl down to KRLD and Alex Burton (who was a judge at Terlingua) critiqued our brew. Alex gave us a few suggestions and we were off and running.

Our first chili team was named Free Wheeling Chili. we started attending chili cook offs as often as we could afford. The word spread quickly because Chili Cook offs are known as "great parties", as the word spread our team grew! In a year, our team had grown to up to fifty people. The Team members were from the Denton, Grapevine, Flower Mound areas. We decided that we needed a new name that represented what we were and what we stood for. After much deliberation and a lot of beer, we came up with the name Hard Core Chili, because that is what we were... Hard Core! Hard Core Chili grew for many years and many people came and went as the team went through a lot of transformations. From 1975 until today, we have had someone representing the team in some form at Terlingua for the World Championship of Chili Cook offs.

Through the years, I've run into lots of people who I met at different Chili Cook offs. After a few beers, are poured into the cooks, (the first ingredient in any good chili) you started learning people by their first names. As time went on people would see me and shake my hand or give me a hug and give me a Grand salutation of "Hi Chili Rick". Thus as time went on people only knew me as Chili Rick and that's just how I wanted it!

Picture:Toby Fucik
Toby Fucik

I am what you would call the Black Knight of this Chili Rick Klan for I am the one that always has the means to make the madness! The wizard that has the potion to create the motion. I am full blown Hemi Engine in a Hummer chassis. My once upon a time story started in south Texas in Weslace a little town outside of Mc Allen. I was raised on Southern hospitality, Southern Rock and Southern Women (including momma). I learned that Austin would become my nest once adolescence turned to manhood. I had a quick stint in DFW, where I met my partner in crime Chili Rick & we created a lasting relationship of sharing & making memories together. Shortly there after I met my beautiful wife Becky, had two great children, Anna and John Park. I have settled down some, but when I'm on the front with Chili Rick we can talk chili with the best of them. The rest of the Chili Klan Brian, Bendy, Joel, Sally Don and Diane are all my tribesman, but Chili Rick is the King of the Bowl of Red!

These gatherings are a true display of the Texas hospitality. I am proud to be a part of Chili for Charity events that benefit various organizations and besides, it allows the Hard Core Chili to Spend quality time together!

Picture:Brian Giddens
Brian Giddens

I am a coonass that migrated to texas a few years back after meeting silly rick. After a year or two I convienced rick to start the old chili team that he had created back in the 70's. I happened into the texas music seen thanks to Scott Mensig aka (Granpa) . I hadn't seen such kind people and good roots music in along long time. So the journey began chasing music and creating a party were ever we go. We have hosted a few music festivals and have our annual Hard Core Chili Cook Off and Halloween party out at Straw Dog Cycles.
I you haven't ran into us you will eventually!! Hang On Because The Train Rolls On!!!!! They call me Butch!

Picture:Diane Boyd
Diane Boyd

First off, I was born in a chili pot. I am now 20, but I have been apart of chili and chili cooking all my life. My dad (Chili Rick) and my mom were big chili cookers. As a couple they went to chili cook offs long before I was born. When I came about I was just added in to the mix, like a good jalapeno. I have a picture of me, in my first Hard Core Chili shirt. I remember it was a very big deal to me at the age of 3. Fast forward a few years later, to a cook off when I was 17. My dad asked me to go to Meriden Texas to the Larry Joe Taylor Chili Cook Off . Of course I said YES! Chili is where I wanted to be! I hadn’t been to a chili cook off in many years. First chance I had to get involved, I took. So I packed up my bags and headed out. We were on our way to an exciting event with great music, food, and a hell of a good time! Something that really sticks in my mind is... On the day of the cook off sitting at the chili pot, cutting up some thing to put in our chili. I felt like I was truly helping. I was honored that I got to contribute to the Hard Core Chili team. We took the chili to be judged. It was really exciting to see all those chilies lined up there. I have been hooked on chili ever since. Now I go to the annual LJT's every year. There is no other fun like a chili cook off. Cooking chili is what we do best!
Picture:Scott Mensing
Scott Mensing

Chili Rick and I met about 1975. This was before he had the surname "Chili". We shared ideals about what life, great times and good people. Our circles of families and friends slowly merged. We became more than buddy, more than brothers, we dubbed name for each other – Brud. I got in at the Hard Core level with chili; V.1, Texas Red – NO BEANS! At the time there was a dozen or so members, between the guys and their ladies. The Hard Core Team would make 5 or 6 events a years around Texas. The season opener was first weekend in April, the Prairie Dog Chili Cook Off in Grande Prairie at Traders Village. Each event we plotted a strategy to win. We entered to win, but it really didn’t matter, we cooked to eat! We went to cook offs to enjoy ourselves with an ever-expanding group of friends, we brought lots of people into this thing we lovingly called "chili".

Road trips to events in San Marcus, Plano, Grande Prairie, Cowtown, Grapevine, Denton, etc., created a brotherhood of teammates. The year’s events culminated in Terlinqua, the ultimate test to see just how Hard Core you were. Hard Core Chiliheads from all over the state would meet up in Terlinqua at the Villa de la Mina. Each year there were new family members and friends we called virgins. It seemed there was a never-ending supply of virgins to sacrifice to the chili idol – Chiligula, and sacrifice we did! When all Hard Core members were present, it was like a village, in an encampment of villages.

While in Terlinque we would "road trip" around the cook off campgrounds amongst the rocks, yucca and cactus to meet, and visit with other chiliheads from around the world. There were always folks we had met at other cook offs, or past years at Terlinqua. It was an ever-expanding brotherhood. Since the 70’s we have had a representative of the Original Hard Core Team at Terlinqua every year. As our crew became smaller, we threw in with other camps for the brotherhood. Team Hard Core has been there in spirit! If you took all the years that a Hard Core member has been at Terlinqua and added them up, it would span multiple life times.

I guess I have to take the blame for planting the Hard Core seed in this decade. With the help of someone that was probably our last and most certainly our youngest original team member, my youngest brother Jon. We raised the original Hard Core flag. It had been buried for fourteen years in a garage. Jon and I had tried a trial run at a back yard cook off only to be bested by a recipe that of all things had potatoes in it. Not succumbing to pressure Team Hard Core cooks nothing but true Texas Red. The first run was Larry Joes’ event in Meridian. We pulled our usual 11th place, but had a blast just the same! It seems that "chili" has become fashionable again in family and corporate worlds.

Long Live Chili
With the re-emergence of Hard Core Chili, we’ve gained many new bothers and sisters. We have dug up a few of the old ones from under the blankets of age, careers. We have been raising families, had responsibilities, dealing with things that crowd all of our lives. But what chili is about, is what Team Hard Core is about, brotherhood, and being a part of some mean Texas Red.

Picture:Bendy Mullis
Bendy Mullis

Not just another pretty face, in this motley chili crew. If you don't want to hear the truth, don't ask Bendy. That is why these Texan chili heads accept this Virginia girl. I am a proud Virginian that got to Texas as fast as I could. This is truly, where god's country is and god's chosen American live. Chili Rick is the sole reason for me being part of such an awesome group of people. I love how they support good Texas music, great Texas food (Chili), and their neighbors as well. Carpe' Diem.

Picture:Joel King
Joel King

I reside in the little town of Ponder, 10 miles northwest of Denton. I grew up listening to good old Honky Tonk music. I met Bendy (not just another other pretty face) and we soon realized that we had the same taste in food and music! Then I was sacrificed to a self-proclaimed Texas legend by the name Chili Rick! I must admit I am a country boy and I like a few things, good chili, a good party, Texas woman and a easy skillet shot! Rick knew good chili, and gave one hell of a great party! Like a Hangover hittin' a nail! I have been told that members get a brand, just like Butch, but I am still waiting for mine. This has been one of the greatest experiences in my life! The people are all real, no bull shit! The festivals are above all! The nicest, friendliest family, you will ever be a part of! If you haven't tried it, you will never get to feel the wholeness I have. If you see me, don't touch my beer, and by the way they call me Lou.

Picture:Sally Moore
Sally Moore

I hail from Rowlett, Texas. I come for a long line of Texans; I grew up fishin' down in the east fork river bottom. Spent 18 years in the entertainment business, saw the world, got burn out came home and have been here ever since. Now I work as an event coordinator and party planner.

Less than a year ago, I met this character by the name of Chili Rick, seems we had been dancing cosmic circles around each other for years. It was the 6 degrees of separation thing, I suppose. Little did we know that our meeting would change both of our lives in such a swift and consuming manner! We had the Texas Music thread which tied us together, initially, but more importantly we had the same philosophy on life and the people we love and care about. Rick had energy around him that was intoxicating and many friends that have consequently become dear to me as well. Rick and I decided several months ago to enter a partnership called Authentic Texas Events. I guess the name says it all!

I am one of the newest inductees to the Hard Core Chili Team. Luckily, as of the Chili for Charity event, I am happy to say, that someone else as taken my place as the newest. I realized early on that the newest member has to go thru a series of tests, challenges and down right humbling experiences as an initiation. Although painful at the time, this process is not in the long run, considered a bad thing. It is what I refer to as a growing process. Why do we put ourselves thru this torture you ask? Because, Rick could sell ocean view property in Kansas and besides that it is fun! I can honestly say, I am a stronger; more well adjusted person with a higher threshold to the party antics that surround this incredibly versatile group of individuals. As far as the chili, I like it much hotter than I did before!

Picture:Donald Williams
Donald Williams

My roots are all in Texas. I was born and raised in the Corpus area. I moved to Austin before I was out of diapers and haven't left the area since. Been all over the mainland working and traveling, partying, & playing. The last couple a words in that sentence warrants a paragraph dedicated to that... Partying & Playing, Chili Rick and myself, (they call me Longhorn Don) crossed paths on a journey 3 years ago. A mutual friend, Toby, introduced us. The details of that first meeting seem to escape me but... what was memorable is Chili Rick. He was a quality person and had a quantity of quality people surrounding him. The atmosphere and/or the events of which this bunch of individuals promote, is one of well, how would you say... a gratifying experience for all involved.

Some of the best music in the world has been written or played by a campfire during Hard Core Chili parties or events. I for one am blessed, with a status that only a few will ever get to experience... or survive. One thing you can bet your boots on partner is if the Hard Core Chili Team is cooking, drinking, dancing, & partying and playing, well Boy Howdy! That's the times that keep us all looking forward in life. This is Longhorn Don signing off. Hope to meet you all in next little while.

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