Dan Lowe of Irmo spent three weeks testing recipes before settling on one featuring mahi-mahi for the annual chili cookoff in Five Points on Saturday.
The nation's growing appetite for Thai cuisine inspired his dish showcasing the fish in coconut milk flavored by hot peppers.
"This is not your typical chili," said Lowe, a former chef who is now a nurse. "I wanted to do something different."
The batch he made in big pots - stirred with wooden canoe paddles - sold out early in the 23rd edition of the charity fundraiser.
His wife, Fauni, has lost her appreciation for chili temporarily. "We've eaten so much in preparation," she said. "We will take a hiatus."
For others, cooking a batch was more off-the-cuff.
A group of chefs affiliated with the local chapter of the American Culinary Institute simply brought what was on hand.
"We just grab what's on the pantry and make it happen," said David Grillo, who will cook at Cantina76 opening soon in Shandon.
- Tim Flach