This happened some years ago- at a job I no longer have, in a state I no longer live in. I was reminded of it because of another non-food related contest I am entering today.
I worked in an office for a large medical insurance provider that really wanted to unite you with your health and care. As one often runs into in such office environments, there were often morale boosting events. Pizza parties, potlucks, etc.
One such event was held in the cold of winter so it was themed as a chili cook-off. These were often an excuse for the office birds to get a free meal and not do their jobs. But I am nothing if not ridiculously competitive. I also happen to be a decent cook, so I saw it as an opportunity to flex a little.
Come cook off day, I presented my offering along with a dozen or so others. Judging was done by 3 other staff within the office not within the circle of the birds. One could purchase a ticket to sample the wares, thereby solving your lunch problem in the process. By the end of the event, my offering was the only one that was empty.
The judges (who were publicly known, this wasn't a blind event or anything) all asked me separately what was in my chili, ingredients, processes, etc. It was clear from the office chatter outside of the birds that I was well ahead of the pack. I didn't win.
It is at this point I should note I've run afoul of the birds before. I don't navigate office politics very well. I also have a problem with people that don't want to get their sh*t done and think it's someone else's problem. I'm very much a "if we all do the job we all get done faster" type.
Safe to say, the birds didn't want yours truly to win, as they'd handed it over to somebody whose offering had widely been branded as canned chili. Ok, I see how it is. I got you. I'm patient. I got time.
If there's one thing about the birds, it's predicability. If there's TWO things about the birds, it's greed. They of course, want more food. And to not work. So, they want another event. The chili cook off brought a metric f*ckton of free food in. They know I'm damn good at what I do- so of course I get asked if I would want to compete. I want revenge- y'all robbed me like I don't know. Game on b*tches.
I spent the next several days cleaning out every grocery store I could find of every conceivable violently hot pepper I could get (this was Minnesota in the middle of winter so...really not that bad. I wasn't getting reapers.) I also cooked up some secrets that would put the double whammy on the spice, making sure the birds were gonna pay. I wasn't playing for the win here, I was playing for revenge.
It should be noted that at no point was I attempting to poison these women. I'm not that guy. Everything I made was completely edible. Really f*cking good in fact. I went with chicken this run. Used bacon too. Nice thick cut smokey bacon from the butcher.
I want to say this batch of chili cost me like $75. It was delicious - and I put all my mojo on it. Toasted spices, roasted peppers, all of it. (This wasn't Mr. And Mrs. Tenorman chili.)
Game day. There were several other competitors again- though sadly not as many as last time. A good friend had been talking smack about some recipe he has so we did a little cross promotional sneak preview. He almost died. My chili turned him beet red and he had the sweats like all hell, so, I knew it was gonna be a good time.
Announcements go out, grub line happens. I start hearing the sniffles. I see a couple of dab tissues, a fanning here or there. In winter. In Minnesota. Then the birds arrive. I purposely ducked out to not make it too obvious that I was waiting- but I didn't even need to see it. That first "HOOOOOOOOOOO" told me I got one. I knew the rest weren't far behind.
Not long after that, I see the judges. Usual questions about my recipe. Truth be told, I don't have one. I never do. I have tricks, I have methods etc- but it's never the same twice. I'm always playing it by ear. Cooking is art. Baking is science.
One of the judges visibly has tears coming from his eyes. He said it was the hottest thing he'd ever eaten. Delicious, but insanely hot. I just kind of had to go "yeahhhhhh" because I can't really explain that he was collateral damage in a revenge plot.
Later, an afternoon email goes out. Shorter than the usual winners announcement - I've been given the win. I like to think it's because my food was superior (and I believe it was) but I am reasonably sure it was out of fear. The Walmart gift card I won didn't cover half the cost of the pot of chili- which was once again, stone empty when I got it back.
I never did hear how bad Montezuma was with his revenge. Also, they never did have another chili cook off. I like to think they were afraid of me. Probably just office morale was REALLY bad, but I'll take the win.
Spice is always a good revenge. Especially if you can handle it but others can't.
I've signed release forms for my food more than once. One of my FAVORITE games is to order the insanely spicy thing, and eat it near a group of bros. Preferably bros with ladies. This inevitably gets the bros into a dare contest. The bros turn into sweatlords, I fall out of my chair laughing. It's a win all around.
Oh im right there with you. I actually posted a spicy post a few days ago about revenge on a lunchroom thief.
"I wasn't playing for the win here, I was playing for violence."
Now that is f*cking petty and I love it. Also: presents bowl with 2 hands and puppy eyes "Please, Sir..."
I haven't made a batch in YEARS. unfortunately the people I've surrounded myself with don't much like the heat. I'd be happy to share if I ever do though.