Navaroli heats up at chili-making competitions

Freshman placed third in the World Championship Chili Cook-Off Youth Division in 2016


Submitted Erin Navaroli

Freshman Erin Navaroli and her dad Scott Navaroli both placed second at a local chili making competition in 2016, when Erin Navaroli was only 10.

Oscar Hong, Staff Writer

Freshman Erin Navaroli’s burning passion for chili making has led her to claim multiple titles at chili cook-offs across the country, including earning  second place at the world championships. 

Growing up, Navaroli has been attending chili cook offs hosted by the International Chili Society with her mother, who has placed in the top three in the world salsa competition, and father, Scott Navaroli, who is the 2015 world champion in the salsa competition as well. 

Navaroli remembers travelling to the cook-offs as a child and her desire to cook that started from a young age. 

“I just grew up around everyone [competing],” Navaroli said. “I knew they had a youth division [at the competitions], so I wanted to try. One of my favorite stories is when I went to a chili cook-off. I got some popcorn from Chuck E Cheese, and I put it in water, and I was selling popcorn chili.”

Once Navaroli began cooking chili, her skills quickly took off. Using a recipe her father created through years of trial–and–error as a base, she molded it by adding spices she believed would blend well, and it became uniquely hers over time. 

During the cook-offs, Scott Navaroli says chefs are very involved in the process. 

“You have to be able to think on your feet,” Scott Navaroli said. “There’s all kinds of variables that you need to think about. It’s made [Erin] learn that she needs to pay attention as well. She can’t start her pot and go play, or else she’ll burn her chili. So she has to stay with it, and work it for the whole three hours.”

Despite the challenges involved, Navaroli has been quite successful, placing second in the World Championship Chili Cook-Off Youth Division in Reno, Nev. in 2016, winning a $600 prize. 

Though the cook-offs are competitive by nature, Navaroli has developed a strong relationship with her fellow competitors. 

“I’ve earned so many close friends,” Navaroli said. “I call them my chili family. We’re all so close. We know everything about each other, and we’ve spent so much time with each other.”

In addition to finding a group of close friends, competing in the cook-offs has taught Navaroli life lessons, especially when she doesn’t perform as well as expected.

“It’s taught her humility, because you don’t always win,” Scott Navaroli said. “You may think you have the best recipe, but when somebody else comes around and blows you out of the water, it humbles you.”