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Darien Nature Center cooking up annual chili challenge

Photo by Contributed Photo, Contributed

The judges for the second annual Darien Nature Center Chili Challenge will be, from left, David Genovese, Pam Anderson, Megan Palmer Rivera and Melanie Barnard.

Eleven restaurants will vie for the title of Best Chili in the Darien Nature Center's second annual Chili Challenge.

Bodega Taco Bar; Burgers, Shakes & Fries; Darien Social; The Goose; Jimmy's Southside; Meatball & Co.; Michael Joseph's; Rory's; Rowayton Market; Station Eats and Ten Twenty Post will each create a unique chili dish to be served for the first time the night of the event.

The challenge will take place Saturday, Sept. 20, from 7 to 10 p.m. on the grounds of the nature center, 120 Brookside Road.

The winner of the 2014 challenge will be selected by a panel of judges: chef and author Pam Anderson, Stamford Advocate restaurant reviewer Melanie Barnard, Darien developer David Genovese and chef Megan Palmer Rivera, from Palmer's Market.

Attendees at the event will also crown a favorite, with one restaurant being named the Fan Favorite.

"We didn't know what to expect last year with the Chili Challenge, being that it was our first year," Elizabeth Hearle, executive director of the nature center, said. "The response from the restaurants and the community was phenomenal, and we can't wait to bring it back again this year, bigger, better and with more restaurants."

In addition to the chili recipes, the event will feature live music courtesy of Gunsmoke, a raffle, games, a mechanical bull and other tastings from Darien Cheese and Fine Foods and El Placerito Taco Truck.

Among the prizes to be raffled are diamond earrings, a catered dinner party for eight people, bundled restaurant gift certificates, camping equipment, artwork and holiday planters.

Tickets are $125 in advance and $150 at the door for all-you-can-eat chili, as well as beer and wine and additional food.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.dariennaturecenter.org or calling 203-655-7459.

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