Chili cookoff set to return to Palm Springs, boosts local economy

Natalie Brunell has the story

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - "This world event is what we call the Super Bowl of chili cooking," said Bill Donovan, a retired fire lieutenant from Cincinnati who competes regularly in chili cookoffs. 

Donovan and his wife, Gail, have been cooking chili together for the last 27 years. 

"We cook together, we cook against each other, but if I win she wins, if she wins I win," Bill said. 

But competing in cookoffs had to be put on hold when he was diagnosed with cancer.

"We didn't think we'd be back, so every time we can be here it's really the best thing in the world," Gail said.

Now five years in remission he's back doing what he loves.

"This is a time to get out and forget some of the bummer things that are happening in life, and it's a time to just be appreciative," Bill said.

It's their first time in Palm Springs, but with the chili cookoff set to return next year, it likely won't be their last.

"We're from Cincinnati, we have no sun so obviously that would be awesome. The view is beautiful," Gail said.

"We've got people from all over the country coming to our beautiful city and finding out what a great place it is.  So for us the tourism value is really important," said Paul Lewin, a Palm Springs City Councilman.

And with international visitors comes a welcome boost to the local economy.

"The cooks, they stay in the hotels, they all have to come here and buy their ingredients in the grocery stores. And our cooks are partiers so they gamble, they drink.  So the bars and restaurants all get the benefit of that," said Carol Hancock, CEO of the International Chili Society, which organizes the World Championship each year.  

But as for when there will be a Coachella Valley resident competing with their chili recipe?

"I bet you after they see the $25,000 prize someone will come up with one," Lewin said.  

For results of the cookoff visit:

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