About


Cooking ICS events since 1986, 1st red win was 1987 at Idaho State with 10 lbs. of meat! Widowed – Heidi bride of 41 years was an avid cook and my best friend. Son Tom and daughter Annie also have cooked for years – taking a break as kids take their weekends with sports. My 1st cook-off was at Scioto Downs Racetrack in 1986 on a dare from foodies – zero points but had fun and learned from there. I have been in and out of the restaurant business in Ohio and Texas, and my passion is to develop our Happy Trails! Chili Seasoning Mix into a national brand.  My day job is a residential mortgage lender licensed in 14 states. I have been trying to listen more than talk (hard for me to do) to learn secrets from successful cooks with loose lips! So after 25 years here I am with Heidi smiling down from above!!

Read more about my chili champion experience in the News section or watch a video from my world champion win.

-Tom Hoover

World Championship Chili Cookoff Interview

by Andrea Nourse

What inspired you to take part in the event? 25 years of competing in ICS competition.

How many events do you participate in each year? 10-20 as many as it takes to qualify for the World Championship.

What are your favorite parts of chili competitions? People watching and talking with chili friends.

What do you plan to do with the prize money? Invest in marketing my chili seasoning mix –  www.happytrailschili.com

What do you think sets your chili apart? Fresh, lively spices.

Where did you learn how to make chili? My home kitchen.

How does this year’s World Championship Chili Cookoff compare to other events? Packed with the most enthusiastic crowd ever!

What are your future chili plans? I am entering the verde and salsa contests this weekend in Plymouth, MI and judging red. I plan to further market out chili seasoning.

How did you prepare for the WCCC? Just brought everything but the kitchen sink.

Would you do anything differently? Absolutely not.

What do you love about chili? The different flavors that permeate the meat and great sauce – even on hot dogs and tacos.

What is your favorite part of preparing or cooking chili – aside from eating it? Handing out samples and see reactions to the tasting.

What is your favorite moment from the event? Being announced the winner.

If you could offer one piece of advice to current or future chili enthusiasts, what would it be? Watch successful chili cooks like a hawk and always ask questions.

What are some of your favorite products to use when cooking chili? Simple – Happy Trails Chili Seasoning Mix.

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Chili photo

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