COLUMBIA, SC — Two guys in bright yellow hazmat suits served chili to a long line of customers Saturday afternoon.
The chili was not radioactive the pair just dressed in character for the Breaking Wind theme for their tent at the 27th Annual Chili Cook-off in Five Points.
The theme was inspired by the popular TV crime drama Breaking Bad, which focused on people sucked into the world of manufacturing crystal blue methamphetamine. And the costumes worn by Corey Ellsworth and Drew Stein had a dual purpose.
The respirators come in handy in the onion chopping tent, where you walk in and start crying, joked Ellsworth, owner of Food for Thought Catering.
Their booth even had blue rock candy and blue sour cream to add a touch of flair.
The wind, well, you can figure it out.
But great chili requires more than just pop culture theatrics.
For one chef, Alistair Tofts, excellent chili requires quality ingredients, such as fresh, coarsely chopped ground beef.
He also had toppings set up at his tent, called Sir Tofts Chili, which had a British theme.
He described his chili as British inspired with a hearty American influence.
Tofts is originally from Chester, England, but has lived in Columbia for the past 17 years, he said.
For the hazmat guys, great chili takes layers of heat.
The Breaking Wind chili had just the right amount of heat, said Julia Bales.
She picked up the chili in Five Points and walked over to Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, where she was set up to relax and listen to music at the 19th annual Columbia Blues Festival.
She was satisfied that the Breaking Wind chili was not overbearing and said the venison version was delicious.
I hate super spicy, said the Breaking Bad fan, who, humorously, happens to be a local pharmacist.
Reach Cope at 803-771-8657 or on Twitter @cassielcope.