Gay Chili Cook Off Serves Up a Spicy Good Time

MAD HATTER LOUNGE’S DISPLAY, PHOTOGRAPHY By MICHAEL CUSHMAN.

Compass hosted its seventh annual Gay Chili Cookoff on Sunday. Like last year, the cookoff was held at Penny’s at the Duke in Lantana. The event featured entertainers, giveaways, and ten heaping plates of chili. 

 Compass raised a record-breaking $4,000 at the event — with the proceeds going toward its youth group. Last year the event raised about $3,000. 

 “It’s been amazing to get more community members and organizations involved and to watch it grow over the years,” said Amanda Canete, Compass’ youth services director. “This year has been one our biggest turnouts.”

There were ten different local businesses competing this year. Familiar venues like The Mad Hatter Lounge and H.G. Roosters cooked to win, as well as some new competitors. Other clubs and organizations that participated were Night Runners of WPB, Compass Health Services, and the Rusty Gordon Palm Beach LGBTA Democratic Caucus. 

One of the newest organizations to participate this year was “Hause of QUOTA.” The organization is a “queer collective” based in Lake Worth that consists of drag performers, visual artists, and event coordinators who each use their talents to unite, foster, and support the LGBT community. 

“It’s been a great experience so far, we are so excited to be here,” said House Mother Ray Ray. “Not a lot of people know us, so it’s been good to show [our] face, introduce ourselves, and do something positive for the youth.”

The cookoff had individual contestants compete as well. Former owner of Mother Earth Sanctuary Café in Lake Worth, Patti Lucia, decided to put a spin on her chili by adding her special homemade cilantro sauce. 

Lake Worth resident and first-time participant Richard Edgeworth showcased his skills as a professional chef with his chili dish affectionately named “Devil’s Own,” but cared more about giving back to the restaurant and community than winning.

“Penny’s has basically helped me come out of my shell and recover from a bad relationship, find new love, and finally stop being anti-social,” Edgeworth said. 

The chili wasn’t the only item on the menu that night. There were several show-stopping performances by some of Palm Beach County’s most colorful entertainers. Raejean Cox kicked off the show with a medley of Dolly Parton songs that included “9 to 5” and the crowd favorite “Jolene.” 

“As the show’s host, it’s an honor that people want to come and perform for the cookoff,” said Cox, who has been the MC for the cookoff for four years. “It’s a win-win all the way around.”

Other performers were Lala Cox, Velvet Lenore, Melissa St. John, Nicole Sapphire, Vasti Love Montana. Since there was a western overtone to the cook off, Elite Drag Kings took their performance to the next level by performing “Pony” made famous by Ginuwine. Along with the spicy performances, the night also included giveaways of alcohol and memorabilia. 

This was the most Compass has ever raised during their seven-year history. 

“The funds raised go mostly to the youth equality prom that we throw every year. We would never want cost to deter youth from going to a prom because they are very expensive,” Canete said. “So, through fundraisers like this, and other fundraisers that the youth do themselves, we are able to provide an amazing prom at no cost.”

The performers donated all of their tips to Compass.

“This year, we’ve had the most performers that we’ve ever had that,” Cox said. “It’s good because every dollar goes to the youth.”

And the winners were:

1stplace: The Mad Hatter Lounge

2ndPlace: H.G. Roosters

3rdPlace: The Rusty Gordon Palm Beach LGBTA Democratic Caucus

This isn’t the first time Mad Hatter Lounge won either – they took home the crown two years ago as well. In 2018 it was Eric Pearson from Compass that won the contest. 

The Compass Youth Groupmeets every Wednesday and Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The group is for LGBTQ teens and allies from ages 12-18. This group is open; anyone can join at any time. For more information contact Amanda Canete at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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