Wick Fowler (photo courtesy of the Wittliff Collections)

How did Wick Fowler, the best chili cook in Texas, manage to not win the first Terlingua Chili Championship back in 1967? According to his boon companion, Sidney Roper Weisiger, a south Texas journalist, it was because Wick left out the treasured ingredient of his youth: swamp rabbit.

At the dawn of the roaring twenties, Wick and his group of playmates contented themselves the way many small-town Texas boys did. When they weren’t in school they spent their days fishing, playing marbles and hunting small game. Victoria, where Wick grew up, had less than 6,000 residents. Continue Reading

It’s National Chili Day And We’re Celebrating The Life of Texas Legend Wick Fowler

Texas chili legend Wick Fowler died a half-century ago but in the Lone Star state he’s still spoken of as though he’ll be at the house for supper in just a few hours.

There will never be another man like Wick.

“The Great Chili Confrontation” was born on the 21st of October, 1967 when a few hundred chili fanatics met on the proving grounds of Terlingua, Texas to settle who the greatest chili cook of the day was.

Wick Fowler strode into battle vs northern humorist H.Allen Smith.

The Wall Street Journal and Sports Illustrated were on hand to cover the affair.

The shootout ended in a draw but Fowler would finally taste victory in 1970. The greatest chili cook of a generation could finally wear the crown.

Just a year and a half later Wick Fowler passed away at age 63.

His legacy is enormous and you can walk into any grocery store in the US today and pick up a packet of his Wick Fowler’s 2-Alarm Chili Kit.

It will fully-power that big cook pot that lives on the back of your range.

The Enduring Legacy Of Texas Chili Legend Wick Fowler

Let Me Teach You How To Make Texas Red Chili

When that cold nor’easter blew in from Lake Pontchartrain last night I got to thinking about chili.

Texas chili.

Texas Red to be precise.

I retired undefeated from the Texas chili wars over a decade ago. Back in the 90s, well before Top Chef became a thing, I organized a series of cooking competitions called Texas Top Cook. I would visit the best restaurants in Austin with an open letter to the cooks in the kitchen.

The letter was a challenge to show up on my French Place proving grounds to compete over big iron pots in my backyard. We’d have 5-10 cooks competing in a variety of fields but the big ones were always concerning chili.

I never got beat in chili but I did taste bitter defeat in a casserole competition (the girl who won eventually admitted that she cheated, and stuffed the ballot box.)

Would you like to learn how to make Texas Red, the ne plus ultra of all chili?

Step right this way

Wick Fowler

Here in Louisiana we take big black pots and pack them with all manners of gumbos, soups, jambalayas, stews and etouffées. Our neighbors to the west in Texas fill their big cauldrons with steer meat, lard, and hot chile powder as they crank out dozens of variations on the chili form.

It was over a half-century ago today – out in the badlands of Terlingua- that a humorist from Illinois, H. Allen Smith, locked horns with Wick Fowler, a war correspondent from Big Sandy, Texas to determine bragging rights on who makes the best chili on planet earth.

It’s a riveting tale.

On Carroll Shelby, Wick Fowler And The Origins of Terlingua Chili