"Chili is a totally different product. It's a mixture of ground meat, beans, a meat broth," says celebrity super-chef Chris Cosentino of San Francisco's Cockscomb and Portland, Oregon's Jackrabbit. "Definition here: 'chili: a spicy dish made of ground beef, hot peppers or chili powder, and usually beans.' They are totally different."
Fellow Top Chef alum BJ Smith of Portland's Smokehouse Restaurants, followed a similar argument and made a strong case for chili as neither soup nor stew. "Chili is its own thing and should almost be its own food group!" Smith says. "Sure either is a great utilization of products, but you can't bring soup to a chili contest or put it on a hot dog."
Sarah Schafer of Portland's Irving Street Kitchen says that calling chili a soup is a surefire way to mess with Texas, which we generally are advised not to do. "Chili should be thick and filled with meat, no beans and lots of cheese and white onions!! If it's brothy, and watery it's ruined," Schafer says. "Common misconception but don't even try to tell a Texan that it has beans, it will get ugly."