From Society Saloon to Sutter Creek


For me, the road to chili cook-off competitions is now a road less traveled. The thought of attending such an event, either as a culinary competitor or a consumer, seldom teases my palate. I consumed massive amounts of chili in while living in Manhattan. JG Melon, P.J. Clarkes, Dorian’s Red Hand  and of course Allen’s, where I was taught the art of creating Society Saloon Chili, boasted about their cups and bowls of spicy stew. Each had their secret recipe

I carried a cup or two of those secrets to Minnesota and after opening Chez Foley in Wayzata, I competed in the Lake Minnetonka Chilly (Chili) Open in 1993. The event was held outside, in the middle of February, on the frozen lake, covered with two feet of snow. Bulldozers cleared a nine-hole golf course so attendees could play golf with a tennis ball while tasting different chili at every hole.

After that event I pledged to never compete again and hung up my chili recipe along with my slotted spoon. Nobody was disappointed.

Unlike so many other things I have tried and eventually had to give-up, the chili competitions seemed easy to live without. I never went through a day where I had to even think about chili. Since buying Purveyors Kitchen and moving to the Sierra Foothills, I sometimes enjoy a bowl of Alehouse Chili at Auburn Alehouse, but rarely think of getting behind a stock pot.

However, two weeks ago, the wafting whiffs of chili filling the air in the Purveyors Kitchen parking lot changed that. The aroma brought me back to Manhattan, then I realized we were making a huge pot of chili with our new chili starter. This chili starter incorporates the best flavors from the Eastside Society Saloons I knew. And, its quick and easy to prepare. The perfect Football game accompaniment.

Facebook Live Still shot with Tracy Whipple and Annmarie Barnett
Warming-up the TTS kitchen with PK chili.

Last Friday Ann Marie Barnett – who along with Tracy Whipple prepared the chili on the TasteToutShout FacebookLive show, last Friday – convinced Kranston and me to bring our starter to The Sutter Creek Chili Competition. I know a good marketing opportunity when I see one. Last Sunday proved to be just that.

Come Sunday, we turned up the flame on the stock stove in “downtown” Sutter Creek. The postage stamp hamlet attracted chili cooking competitors from as far away as Hawaii. The Saucy Sisters fly in yearly and have captured the top honors for years.

The Purveyors Kitchen team, captained by Kranston and Barnett – I carried the table – did extremely well in the chili starter division. We didn’t capture any silver or ceramic but the crowd of enthusiasts quickly scooped their way through ten gallons of the incredible – yes, I am biased – stew.

Kranston and Barnett...the new Chili Queens on the scene.
Kranston and Barnett…the new Chili Queens on the scene.

If you missed the Main St. competition, don’t feel your taste buds were robbed. The new product is available on It’s the perfect quick evening meal or a great rib warmer on those soon-to-be-here winter days.

And with just a few spoonfuls and you’re back in Manhattan, without the noise.

John Foley is Publisher of

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