A Longtime N.C. State Fair Fan is Ready to Taste the State’s Best Chili in the 2022 Home Chef Challenge

For 11 days each October, the N.C. State Fairgrounds turns into a delicious culinary playground. This season, the North Lobby of the Dorton Arena will have the sensational aromas of home chefs cooking their best recipes in hopes of winning $500 and bragging rights in the 2022 Home Chef Challenge

Raeford resident Dewayne Smith has attended the N.C. State Fair for 35 years. This season he is ready to chow down on homemade chili as one of the panel judges for The Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-Off presented by Carolina Cooker

When Smith read about the contest in the State Fair newsletter, he did what you would expect a food lover to do. He sent an email back jokingly asking if they needed a public judge.  

“I never thought they would take me up on my offer,  but I am sure glad they did,” laughed Smith. “I chose chili to judge because I love to make a meat chili myself.” 

When he is not working as manager of the Full Moon Oyster Bar and Seafood Kitchen in Moore County, he’s cooking chili in his kitchen along with some other comfort foods.

Raeford resident Dewayne Smith at the 2017 State Fair with his daughter, aged nine this year.

“I don’t even use a chili recipe. I do it all by taste,” explained Smith. “I like a combination of sweetness and heat, but the key to good chili is to cook it on low and slow.” 

Smith’s no-recipe chili simmers on the stove for about six hours. He uses ground beef or sausage or sometimes both in his creation. You will not find a bean in his chili, though. 

“I don’t do beans, but I will top it with cheese and some crackers,” added Smith. 

Even though Smith chooses not to add beans to his chili, he looks forward to tasting the different varieties the home chefs may present to the judges. 

“I thought this would be a good year for me to scope out my competition for future contests,” Smith said with a chuckle. “I am excited about tasting the diverse recipes I’m sure people have in their families.” 

Smith will be judging The Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-Off presented by Carolina Cooker at 2 p.m. on October 16. He will attend the fair with his wife, Kristen, and their two children.

If you think you have what it takes to spice up the competition, all entries to the 2022 Home Chef Challenge need to be submitted by October 3.

The N.C State Fair will hold the following challenges during the 2022 fair.

Oct. 13-4 p.m.: Loaded Nachos Challenge presented by N.C. State Wolfpack Basketball

Oct. 14- 10 a.m.: Brownie Showdown presented by Humana

Oct. 15- 10 a.m.: Spirited Pie Challenge presented by the Distillers Association of North Carolina

Oct. 16- 2 p.m.: Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-Off presented by Carolina Cooker

Oct. 17- 10: a.m.: Morning Mayhem Buster: Make-Ahead Breakfast Challenge presented by Superior Sleep Experience

Oct. 18- 11 a.m.: Brain Food Healthy Grain Bowl Challenge presented by Wegmans

Oct. 19- 11 a.m.: Tip Top Sirloin Salad Challenge presented by the N.C. State Fair

Oct. 20- 10 a.m.: Bacontastic Fair Food Challenge presented by the North Carolina Pork Council

Oct. 21- 10 a.m.: Not Your Mama’s Chicken Casserole Challenge presented by the House of Raeford

Oct. 22- 10 a.m.: Duke Cancer Care in Wake County Celebrates Cancer Warriors Challenge presented by Duke Raleigh Hospital

Oct. 23- 10 a.m.: Quirky Cobbler Challenge presented by the N.C. State Fair

About Leigh Powell Hines

Leigh Powell Hines is a midlife blogger in Raleigh, NC, and the founder of HinesSightBlog.com and OutaboutNC on social media. When working in TV news, Leigh covered every county fair on the local news and loved how it brought the local community together and educated our youth in a fun way. Her favorite fair food is a pretzel and local NC beer in the NC Public House.

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