La Verne Cool Cruise
I’ve always had an active lifestyle. Since our grandkids arrived, though, time doesn’t just fly; now it’s like being on a rocket ship. I can’t believe it’s been a year since the 2008 La Verne Cool Cruise and our effort at L.D.’s chili cook-off competition. Last year, with our man Fred Fleet at the helm, SO-CAL’s cook-off team did well by garnering the People’s Choice Award. What was even more fun was embarrassing Ron Mangus and Pete Santini in this very column about being no-shows. Mangus and family entered the competition this year, though Santini was a no-show again. I can’t figure out the problem, but truth be known I think he’s just afraid.
We started early this year, (6:00 am), and while Fleet and Peter4 sautéed chopped white onions, garlic, 15 pounds of steak and 5 pounds of pork loin in olive oil, I was keeping an eye on the competition. Everything was going according to plan until Troy Ladd and the Hollywood Hot Rods team showed up. The confidence they show in building hot rods was immediately evident in their approach to cooking. “Shooting from the hip” became the mantra of the day, as all involved kept a close eye on our Burbank-based friends. Meanwhile, show ringleader L.D. Johnson and the Cal Rods were busy parking 1,100-plus cars. La Verne is one of the best on the planet. It’s not just the eclectic collection of vehicles, but the people. It’s a bit of a time warp, kind of like attending a small county fair from years past. The local businesses support the function, and needless to say the food, drink and music are exceptional.
Back at the SO-CAL burner, Fred and PC4 were dialing in the SO-CAL chili, adding in the secret sauce and topping it off with a quart of tequila and five bottles of red wine. Even though our batch was done, the folks couldn’t taste it until the judges got their sample. As the aroma of chili filled Old Town, the natives were getting restless. The judges finally came through, so we were able to start dishing out samples to a somewhat patient crowd. We collectively sold about 25 gallons of chili, and at a buck a shot, the “Stevens Hope for Children” charity did well.
The final award of the day was the Chili Cook Off trophy, won by Hollywood Hot Rods. Yes, we got beaten by the kids and I smell a “ringer.” Troy won the trophy, and he, in turn, shared his silver Patron with our crew. All in all, it worked out great. Congratulations to Troy, L.D. and the Cal Rods for putting on a fantastic show!