Town lights fire under lawmakers to change chili cook-off rules

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Business and city leaders in Crosslake, Minn., say the state needs to ease its strict enforcement of food preparation rules that are making it tougher to hold a decent chili cook-off, the Lake Country Echo and Pine River Journal report.

Interest in the town's WinterFest SoupFest and Crosslake Days chili cook-off have cooled recently, in large part because the Minnesota Department of Health strictly enforces rules that the dishes must prepared on-site or in a commercial kitchen, the publication reports.

Crosslake Chamber of Commerce director Cindy Myogeto said the MDH rules are taking the "integrity and novelty" out of the lakeside town's annual activities.

“Flavors of chili don’t meld in a couple of hours,” she said last fall.

The Associated Press talks to Bart Taylor, a former cook-off winner who says the state's health department killed his award-winning chili, which calls for 24 pounds of beef brisket smoked for 18 hours.

So the group of town leaders is asking lawmakers who represent the area in the Legislature to push legislation that allows nonprofit groups to prepare their chili in home kitchens up to three days in advance, if certain criteria are met.

Democrat Rep. Joe Radinovich, from nearby Crosby, introduced a bill Monday that would ease the state's rules, the AP reports.

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