● By Kylie Cooper
Conversation by: Kylie Cooper Photo by: Lillian Reitz
First, tell me a little bit about what Chili con Chili is.
Chili con Chili is a cooking show that appears on the Chili con Chili Facebook page every Sunday at 7pm. The show has been on Facebook for over three years. It features a different meal each week, and the recipe always has chili in it or served with it. Humor is a huge part of this show – telling unheard stories about where the recipes originated. Every week, Chili con Chili teaches the viewers the Spanish word of the day, and the name of the recipe is always spoken in Spanish, so you get a little bit of a Spanish lesson as well. Fifteen minutes into every show, the doorbell rings and a surprise taster appears in the kitchen while I am cooking. The taster is served the meal that was being cooked, followed by a quick interview to learn everything anyone needs to know about the surprise taster.
How did the idea to start the show come to you?
The idea of Chili con Chili came to me from a book I was reading about a successful businessman in Mexico, and how he chose to do something out of his comfort zone and how that became a passion of his new life. I decided I wanted to do a cooking show because the ones on TV can be boring or not funny. So, I put together a team. I asked my partner of 30 years to be the producer of the show, “Freddy the Producer” – even though his job is mainly to pick out a different bandana for me to wear each episode and answer the door when the surprise taster rings the doorbell. Reno the Dog “El Reno,” one of our five dogs, walks around while I cook, and (I asked) our best friend Sam, “Sam the Taster” to ring my doorbell 15 minutes after the show started and to come in and taste the food I was cooking. Everyone fell in love with Sam; he stole the show. Sadly, Sam passed away last year, and we decided to continue to do the show in his honor and allow a different surprise taster every show.
Have you always loved to cook?
Yes, I have! Some good recipes, some not so good. I was the youngest of six children, so I was always my mother’s helper and I studied everything she cooked.
What do you hope this show brings to those who watch it?
I hope Chili con Chili makes everyone who watches laugh or at least smile. The show is really ridiculous; however, it is fun and full of a lot of positive energy. So, I hope that is what it brings to those who decide to turn it on.
When you aren’t filming the show, how are you spending your time?
When I am not filming the show, I run my own entertainment business, supplying talent for concerts, festivals, private parties, corporate events, and fundraising events for nonprofit organizations throughout Texas. I am also a consultant for a corporation in the Rio Grande Valley and a consultant for the Ready or Not Foundation here in Corpus Christi. My boyfriend, “Freddy the Producer,” and I have five dogs – El Reno, El Hondo, El Rusty, El CoCo, and El Lilly – who we love to play with. We also like to travel to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, as often as we can.
What is one of your favorite aspects of doing Chili con Chili?
The feedback I get is super, super cool. Everyone tells me they love the show, and almost everyone who watches it are people I don’t know personally, which is neat. We’ve had over 6,000 viewers for episodes, and the fact that many people are connecting with me and this show is overwhelming. I also love getting to meet our surprise tasters, most of whom I do not know until they show up on the show. Past tasters include judges, Governor candidates, psychologists, District Attorneys, mayors, city managers, my friend and her 97-year-old mother, students, drag queens, and quadruplets...just to name a few.
What is one of your favorite recipes to cook?
I have this old picadillo recipe from my mother. My friends and family all always love it and I must say, it is truly the bomb.
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