We arrived at Lost Lake Resort on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 19th, and encountered our first problem of the week. Someone had piled about 20 bench-type picnic tables right in the spot where we needed to park our motorhome. It was late afternoon and the maintenance crew had left for the day. Eventually the maintenance supervisor, Dave, came with a couple of resort residents and moved them out of the way. We were able to unload supplies from the bed of our motorhome, hook up and settle in for the week. Problem solved.
Weather reports had been predicting rain for most of the week. The Los Angeles and Inland Empire regions were inundated with slides, accidents, road closures and flooding everywhere. Some areas had as much as 4 inches of rain. By Wednesday night the storms had reached our area, which is about 200 miles to the east, and we had thunder and lightning. We began to worry about the logistics of preparing the meats and potatoes for our traditional Saturday morning breakfast. Eventually we were able to gather the stoves beneath two RV canopies ant got the preparation done in relative dryness, if not in comfort.
Friday is preparation day for the breakfast and also for the tasting kits. On Wednesday and Thursday several more campers arrived, in spite of the weather, and we had lots of help. Chefs were Tim Green, Bob Dyer, Bob Griffith and Bill Ray. Gathered in our motorhome to cut fruit and make tasting kits were Julie Rojas, Patricia Sanchez, Mimi Voiles, Willma Maehl and Karen Ray. Thanks to all of you for your excellent help. We couldn’t have done it alone. With all of the work done, we settled back to watch and listen to the rain and fret about what Saturday would bring.
We woke at about 2:30 am with heavy rain on our roof. You can only imagine what we said! But Saturday morning dawned with cloudy but dry skies. And the come-for-the-day cooks began to arrive. Several cooks experienced their first trip to Lost Lake Resort: Michael Still from La Verne, CA, Nick Fadich from Mesquite, NV, Robert Shank from Parker AZ and Molly Weiner from Sherman Oaks, CA. Mike and Kim Armstrong from Blythe, CA were new members and first-time cooks. We were thrilled to have 27 cooks for Traditional Red Chili plus Molly, who cooked only People’s Choice chili. 12 contestants competed for Chili Verde and 10 for Salsa.
People’s Choice Chili is optional at this cookoff, and all but 5 or 6 contestants brought some. We were still concerned about tasting kit sales with the cloudy weather. By midmorning the public began to arrive and were overwhelmed with tasting kit purchases. At the end of the day, we had sold more than $1,100 in tasting kits, enabling the winners to receive a total of $560 in prize money.
Everyone enjoyed the day. The winners were announced at about 4:30 by Emcee Steve Porter. Steve has only missed one Lost Lake cookoff in the 27 years of its existence. Great thanks to Chief Judge, Captain Jim, and Chief Scorekeeper, Donnie Gordon. And the winners were:
People’s Choice Chili:
3rd place Dennis Macklin tied with
2nd place Marcia Wohler
1st place Charles Harber
Best First-Time Cook:
Freddie Costanzo, the grandson of Fred and Patti Summers. Fred Summers also won Best First-Time cook many years ago.
3rd place Michael Still
2nd place Jim Stoddard
1st place Ray Bogart
3rd place Paul Whitney
2nd place Jim Stoddard
1st place Ken Hook
Traditional Red Chili:
4th place Mike Austin tied with
3rd place Michele Baumberger
2nd place Nick Fadich
1st place Kathy Plager
See y’all next year for the 28th Annual River Resorts Regional.