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Saturday, October 6th
11:30 am - 5:00 pm
The Great Bowls ‘O Fire Chile Cook-off


The Great Bowls ‘O Fire Chile Cook-off will be held Saturday, October 6, in the upper parking lot of the museum. Tasting cups go on sale at approximately noon. This event is co-sponsored by the Museum, International Space Hall of Fame and United Way of Otero county. Proceeds benefit non-profit organizations within the community.



1. What does “NO HOLDS BARRED! RED OR GREEN CHILI!” mean? It means FREEDOM for chili cooks of all types! FREEDOM to create the chili your mother warned you about! FREEDOM to make it red or green, add beans, throw in chopped onions and chilis….FREEDOM to make any kind of chili you darned well please, as long as you are willing to taste it first!

2. All preparation, cutting, slicing, chopping, cooking, holding, serving, etc. MUST be done on site. No homemade foods or foods from unapproved sources are allowed (all meats, salsas, sauces, etc. must be from inspected, approved facilities…like a grocery store.) No ingredient may be pre-cooked in any way prior to the commencement of the official cook-off. MEAT MAY NOT BE PRE-COOKED.
a. CHILI COOKED FROM SCRATCH - "Scratch" is defined as starting with raw meat. No marinating is allowed. Commercial chili powder is permissible, but complete commercial chili mixes ("just add meat" mixes that contain premeasured spices) are NOT permitted.

3. Your team MUST prepare enough chile to turn in to the judges and to fill at least 100 tasting cups. (Tasting cups are approximately a half-ounce. It is recommended that you prepare roughly two gallons of chile, or more. Remember, the more chile you make, the more tasting cups you can fill and the more money everybody makes!)

4. Your team must be registered to participate and follow the registration guidelines.

A. Booth set-up time is from 8:00 am to 9:30 on Saturday, Oct. 15, in the upper parking lot of the Museum of Space History. You will have a designated booth space for both of your booths. Early set-up must be pre-arranged with Cathy Harper at the Museum (575-437-2840 ext. 41153 or After you have unloaded your vehicle, please move it to the large parking lot just above the IMAX theater.
B. There will be a cooks meeting at approximately 9:30 am, your head cook MUST attend.
C. Cooking begins at 10:00 am and continues until noon.
D. At noon, your judging cup MUST be turned in. After your judging cup is turned in, you can begin to give samples to the public. (Do not give samples out BEFORE your judging cup is turned in.)

5. Contestants are responsible for supplying all of their own booths, cooking utensils, etc. Here’s a general list of what you’ll need and some rules (items marked with an asterisk are required by the Environment Department):
A. Each team must have its own pop up awning or other approved shade for both booths. The cooking booth must have its own shade.
B. There is no electricity on site. If you need electricity, you must provide your own portable generator or battery pack.
C. Propane cooking stove.
D. Tables and chairs.
E. Pots, pans, cooking utensils, etc. You will need a bucket with bleach in it for sanitizing purposes. (2 tsp bleach to half gallon of water, do not add soap)
F. One large trash can and trash bags. (Trash may be deposited in the Museum dumpsters next to the IMAX Theater.)
G. *Running water hand wash: 1 five gallon jug with a “constant on” spigot (bring soap and paper towels), a bucket to collect the run off water. You can get these at Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Big 5.
H. *Gloves for food handling (Don’t forget hair restraints for those with long hair. Even if you have short hair, please wear a hat or hair net.)
I. *Strict temperature control (41 degrees F or less for cold food in coolers, 160 degrees or more for cooked food, so bring a thermometer, please)
J. 3 quart size, or larger, containers for sanitizing serving spoons (each will have water, 1 with dish soap, 1 with bleach and 1 with plain water) The order is: dish soap, water, bleach.
K. Food safety is our top priority. Please refer to the food safety guidelines supplied in your registration packet if you have questions, or call Cathy Harper. Each booth will be inspected prior to the beginning of the cook off to make sure they are in compliance with the safety regulations. A member of the chile cook off staff and possibly an environmental officer will conduct the inspection. Booths that are deemed unsafe will be disqualified. Entry fees will not be returned.

6. Each contestant will be assigned a contestant’s number by the Chief Scorekeeper and be given an official judging cup. Each contestant should verify that the number on the bottom of their cup is the same as their assigned contestant number. Each contestant is responsible for delivering their cup to the judging area at the official time for judging. The cup must be filled to the bottom of its rim.

7. Judges will be told they should vote for the chili they like best based on the following major considerations: good flavor, texture of the meat, consistency, blend of spices, aroma, and color.

8. The decisions of the Chief Judge shall be final.

Frequently asked questions:

Q. If I am not a member of a non-profit organization, can I still enter the cook-off?
A. Yes! But you have to designate a non-profit organization or charity for the BIG WINNINGS to be donated to.

Q. What is the registration deadline?
A. The registration deadline is Friday, October 7, at 5:00 pm. You can download a registration form at (look under events) or You can also pick up a hard copy in the Education Office at the Museum (in the IMAX building) or the United Way office at 1601 10th St. Ste B.

Q. What does the registration fee money go to pay?
A. The registration fee goes towards monetary awards, the purchase of trophies and other supplies needed for the cook off.

Q. I’m not from Alamogordo, or even Otero County, can I still cook?
A. Yes, you can! Just remember, you have to have a designated non-profit or charity. (It doesn’t have to be local either!)

Q. Can I sell stuff at my second booth?
A. Sort of. For instance, you could sell tickets to a raffle (drawing to be held later). You could have a game at your booth and sell tickets to play.
B. The rule is, whatever you sell, all the profit has to go to benefit your non-profit or charity. Not a percentage of profits. All profits.
C. NO. You cannot sell water or sodas or chips. Those booths are taken. We’re trying to make sure that nobody is competing with anyone else, that way we all make more! So before you go out and buy a whole truckload of something to sell, give us a call. See contact info below.
D. NO. You cannot sell other food stuff (like bake sale items or other home cooked foods) UNLESS you are licensed through the Environment Dept. You can sell pre-packed things, like candy bars, peanuts, etc. Please check with the Environment Dept. to make sure what you want to sell (in regards to food) is ok. The local phone number is 437-7115. Ask for Melissa Garcia.
E. If you still have questions, want to make sure you’re not competing with anyone else or just like to talk, call Cathy Harper (575-437-2840 ext. 41153 or

Q. I’m a politician. Can I cook chile too?
A. We won’t hold that against you. You can cook chile too! All you have to do is register, just like us voters.
B. You will get a second booth, which must represent your designated charity, not your political campaign. You can hand out political fliers and such; just remember this is a family event.

Q. How much chile goes in the tasting cup?
A. The tasting cups are small, mostly so the chile will go farther. Fill the cup about half way full, give or take. Our best guess is about one or two tablespoonfuls.

Q. How does my non-profit or charity make money out of this deal?
A. From the sale of the tasting cups and through cash prizes. Each cup is sold for $2 to the public, they also get 10 tickets. To taste your chile, they have to give you a ticket. If they’re out of tickets, they have to go spend another $2 to get more.
B. They can give you ALL their tickets or just one. Remember, one taste per ticket.
C. The red team and the green team with the most tickets at the end of the event will win the coveted “People’s Choice” award for red or green.
D. The red and green teams that win the judging will split the net money (after expenses) from the tasting cups like this:
1) 1st place: 25% of net profit
2) 2nd place: 15% of net profit
3) 3rd place: 10% of net profit
4) The remaining money will be split evenly between the remaining teams.
5) Yes, Virginia, there will be 1st, 2nd and 3rd place cash prizes in the red chile category AND the green chile category!
In addition, we’ve been out rounding up sponsors to help add more cash to the cash prizes! Our goal is to add (in both categories) $500 for first place, $250 for second and $100 to third.

Q. How much is the CASH PRIZE for the best booth? $100!

Q. What’s up with this best booth thing?
A. Because we want everybody, especially the public, to have as much fun as possible, we are encouraging all registered teams to go completely crazy decorating their booths and to engage in some sort of crowd participation activity or game.

Stick with the theme…which is WESTERN.
Be safe. Have fun. Keep it clean.


Q. Who do I call if I have a question that isn’t answered here?

For more information contact Cathy Harper at (575) 437-2840 ext.41153or by email at