Fans of “The Office” will understand why Brian Baumgartner is the obvious choice to present this chili cookbook. I’ll be honest: I’ve never seen an episode of “The Office”. So, I was curious about a story that started with, “On April 30, 2009, at roughly 9:02pm, my life changed forever. I became known as “the chili guy”.” His anecdote about a rather messy scene in the “Casual Friday” episode of the series involves physical humor and definitely needs visuals to really tell the tale, so six photographs of ‘the incident’ are included. By the end of the story, I was laughing and groaning and most definitely got the joke.
Having made sure I understood the joke that forms the premise of this book, we move on to “A Brief History of Chili and Fun Facts” and “A Chili Timeline”. The timeline is fascinating – don’t skip over it! Then, it’s story time again. Brian talks about his search for the perfect chili. It’s a tall tale that will leave you wondering how much of it is true and how much is epic storytelling.
“Good to Know Info” tidbits are dropped here and there throughout the book, giving you tips, tricks, and information about chili. Also, QR codes are scattered throughout the book . If you see one and scan it with your phone, you’ll link up with a cooking video. And then, at last! We come to a recipe! It’s “Brian’s Seriously Good Chili”, his personal go-to recipe. Next, an extensive hot pepper heat scale was a welcome sight. I love this. There are SO many pepper varieties, who can remember them all, or what their heat level is? Now I know if I’m offered a Carolina Reaper, I should run away. Fast.
And just when you’re wondering where the other 176 recipes are, they appear. The variety is incredible. If you can’t find a chili recipe in this collection to your liking, you probably don’t like food at all. One grouping of the recipes are winners of ICS (International Chili Society) World Championships. The final recipe is ‘the’ recipe that was used in that incident in ‘that’ episode of “The Office”. How fitting. All in all, this is more than just a cookbook. It’s a celebration of the history, culture, and diversity of chili.
My thanks to author Brian Baumgartner, Fox Chapel Publishing, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.