The Story by Mickey Steinborn
This is the Maui Chili story. It is a story of a recipe.
“The Chili is a sweet, hot and chunky chicken style with home grown garden herbs. Since I've created this recipe it has been called by many names; Island Chili, Hawaiian Chili, Paradise Isles Chili, Pineapple Chili, the list goes on. The recipe was conceived and formulated, after one year's part time delving into chili recipes viewed on many, many chili web sites. I've experimented with various quantities of all the ingredients listed here. There are twenty-six different main ingredients plus two secret ingredients; all of which should be included to maintain the integrity of the final flavor. Only subtle measurement changes have been entertained with some of the seasonings as the recipe developed and matured.Part of the fun of cooking Maui Chili, as most home made chili, is the ability to change the heat and zest of the taste of the finished mixture by adding or subtracting the jalapeno peppers and the cayenne powder. The ginger and the pineapple are an overture to the overall flavor and are the key's to the recipe. There are two secret ingredients that I will not divulge.
Adding or subtracting the herbs and garlic will not change the presence of the distinct ginger and pineapple flavor. This is the essence of this Chili; the pineapple and the ginger.
My chili connoisseur and friend, Ms Linda Holcomb, the self-proclaimed Chili Queen, entered my final mixture into a chili cook-off contest with cooking, tasting and preparation assistance. Linda has a passion for Chili. She conceived the Long Beach California Grand Prix Chili Cook Off in 1974. She has been a judge and contestant at many events for over twenty-five years. She reminds me, that she remembers the heartburn. (Let there be no misunderstanding, there is NO heart burn created from Maui Chili.) Linda had tried, in vain, for four years, to win, place or show in the Beverly Hills chili cook-off contest. Each year she had fun, but no wins. I offered to create a recipe with her as my assistant chef. I boasted a guarantee that together we would be one of the top three winners. It was too much work to cook for one pair of hands. And, most essentially, she furnished the very necessary sharp knives.
This is the first chili recipe, to the best of my knowledge, containing two of my favorite ingredients; pineapple and ginger.
The cooked chili was entered in the annual 'Beverly Hills Farmers' Market Chili Cook-Off' during a hot August, Sunday, in the summer of '99. All the ingredients were prepared and cooked at the event in one twenty-quart pot on a propane grill under a ten by ten canopy covered space on a closed-off street called Canon Dr. The pot was quite full and brimming after all the ingredients were cut, chopped and placed into the pot. Constant stirring became a necessity. Preparation, cutting, combining, tasting and cooking time took about three and a half hours from start to finish. Amongst a field of eighteen ardent and enthusiastic entrants, Maui Chili firmly appropriated Second Place. First place seemed to be occupied by political intrigue amongst the six presiding judges, city council members and friends of politicians.
"Maui Chili, Maui Chili..." was the cry from the throngs of people at this annual outdoor Farmers' Market event. All who got a taste of this unique concoction, proclaimed the true winner, "Maui Chili", all hands down.
It was a surging sea of outreached paper cups flailing in front of Linda and myself when the judges announced on the public address system that we were allowed to give out samples. The aroma of our Maui Chili had permeated the bouquet of all the street vendors and other chili brews. It wafted down the street on a summer zephyr attracting the curious. It was unmistakably different. Like a pied piper, the scent attracted people.
They were intrigued with the idea that pineapple and ginger had been introduced into their concepts of a bean and meat chili world. Chicken was different enough, but, pineapple and ginger? The contest rules stated that we could not give out samples until the six judges had first tasted each entrants offering. The atmosphere was near pandemonium in front of our booth at that fateful moment, after the judges had tasted all entries, ours agonizingly being the last samples they tasted. Market goers came at us in swarms of hungry extended arms outreached with farmers' market furnished double tablespoon sized paper cups and other assorted receptacles.
We ladled it out until it seemed it was gone. Yet, still they came, with outreached spoons, the people begged to scrape, scoop up the remaining chunks and sauce that still clung to the insides and bottom of the pot. Strangers wanted the recipe. They gave me their Email addresses. Before the event, I printed one hundred recipes. The Beverly Hills chili cook-off promoters in conjunction with the Beverly Hills Farmers' Market, printed up one hundred copies of each contestant's recipes as well. The Beverly Hills recipe was excerpted and shortened to fit onto one page. My edition took two pages. All the recipes were grabbed. Every last drop of Maui Chili was eaten. It was more than a success. It was the birth of something new.
Pineapple and ginger are two key ingredients that make this chili a most unusual and world class chili. Also, I used a herb know as Lovage, which is an herb I found by accident when shopping for herbs to plant on my apartment balcony. Lovage is distinctively similar to celery, but with a stronger aroma and celery taste. The use of chicken instead of red meats was a choice dictated by my preference. Any meat can be used. It's the combination of the pineapple, ginger along with the other ingredients that create the unique and flavorful experience. And, yes, there are no beans in this chili. And, as I am to understand, from my research, real chili has no beans. Yes, we have no beans today. Let the debates continue, beans or no beans. Maui Chili reigns King.
The unexpurgated and annotated recipe is as follows. Don't forget that the quantity of ingredients, as listed below, was created for a twenty-quart portion. Adjust the ingredients to your serving size, but don't forget to include them all. Continuous stirring will avoid bottom sticking. Taste frequently and season with the herbs and chili powder to your taste.”
2009 Lahaina Yacht Club Chili Cook-Off