Cook-Offs Prepare CUs for ‘Chili Challenge’ to Support Charities

After the 2016 Credit Union Chili Challenge, the “Chili Dawgs” team from SchoolsFirst FCU poses for a photo with the money it raised for Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC).
After the 2016 Credit Union Chili Challenge, the “Chili Dawgs” team from SchoolsFirst FCU poses for a photo with the money it raised for Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC).

The 5th annual Credit Union Chili Challenge is coming to Del Mar, CA on Aug. 5 to raise funds for your credit union’s favorite charity! Is your credit union’s staff ready?

Those looking forward to one of the industry’s premiere fundraising events in California every year can prepare by holding “mini” chili cook-off contests at their own credit union leading up to the main Chili Challenge event in early August, which is hosted by Xpress Data Inc. at the historic Del Mar Thoroughbred Club race track.

The Chili Challenge will be held the same day as two other attractions at the club: a Saturday horse race and a “Country Festival,” which features a concert by country superstar Billy Carrington. Both attractions are expected to draw a combined 20,000 attendees.

No matter your credit union’s size or location, an onsite mini chili cook-off is a fun, delicious way to promote employee engagement, build teamwork and leadership skills, and provides a chance for staff to gain exposure to peers within their own credit union. Xpress Data has provided a free chili cook-off kit (see below) that your human resources department can use to make a mini cook-off easy, effective and official—and to determine which department at the credit union makes the tastiest chili! Bragging rights and a championship plaque are all part of this fun experience.

If the winning team at your credit union’s mini cook-off decides to enter into the Credit Union Chili Challenge held in August, their eyes will be on the prize: one that lets first, second and third-place winners designate the winning $14,000 in prize money to be split among charities of their choice, as well as trophies and bragging rights. Last year, 19 credit union teams competed and provided employees a tremendous opportunity to network with other credit unions. Teams also had fun demonstrating their credit union pride.

Click here to download the “Pick Your Team” registration form.

Additionally, click here to access your free chili cook-off kit for your credit union to host its own mini cook-off. It includes: a plaque for the winning team, official judges cups, and other helpful resources (details, pre-event checklist, customizable promotional flyer, sample email template, suggested supply list, “day of” checklist, judges ballot, judging guidelines, scorekeeping guidelines, score sheet, suggested rules, official main-event rules, and a main-event entry form).

Volunteer judges at the event are CEOs of participating credit unions and other industry executives, as well as members of the credit union news media. The event lets competing teams get creative with “home style” chili, which offers the opportunity to experiment with a tasty range of seasoning and flavors.

“Whoever wins this cook-off automatically gets invited to participate in the International Chili Society’s World Championship,” said Bill Birnie, CEO of Pacific Marine CU and a huge supporter of the credit union event in Del Mar. “Chili is fun food—and making it competition-style means every team’s chili turns out different. There’s something for everyone to like. Anything you can do to bring your staff together and have fun at the same time is a huge positive for any credit union.”

Xpress Data will also be hosting a networking cocktail reception the evening before the Credit Union Chili Challenge for all credit unions competing in the cook-off. It will be at Truluck’s Seafood Steak and Crab House in nearby La Jolla, CA to give participants an opportunity to get acquainted. Additionally, a block of discounted rooms has been reserved at the Hyatt Regency LaJolla across the street from Truluck’s.

More Information

  • To see who won last year’s event, click here.
  • To view a video of last year’s event, click here.
  • To view a photo slide show of last year, click here.
  • For Kinecta FCU’s mini chili cook-off video leading up to last year’s event, click here.

Questions? Contact Kelly Hoog at 858-676-9888, ext. 148; or