Street talk: World chili champ plans move to Carson City

The old TV show "I've Got A Secret" is coming back with brand new shows soon, and one of the contestants on the show is Maud Swick.

Her secret?

"I was chosen to be on the show because I'm the world chili champion," said Maud. "We taped the show a week ago last Tuesday in Hollywood."

Maud, who is 55, came to Carson City from Bakersfield to cook in the Carson City Invitational Chili Cookoff.

"This is my first time cooking in this event and I like it. I know just about everybody here and this is a fun and friendly cookoff. It's a change-of-pace for me and I like the idea that it's a private cookoff. That's different than the usual cookoffs I go to."

That cookoff took place last Saturday at the home of Dr. Ed and Mary Pierczynski and Maud was one of 33 cooks - the field included eight former world champions - to compete in the prestigious event. Maud didn't win but says she had fun at the event.

Maud and husband George, 57, have been married for 18 years.

"George and I started cooking together as a team 15 years ago," said Maud with a smile. "As a team we tied for first place in 1988 at the world championships. Then we started cooking separate. We both have, since then, cooked in the world championships six or seven times, but neither of us won until last year."

A couple of points to make: The International Chili Society sanctions and holds the world championships. They take place the second weekend of October in Las Vegas. All ICS chili cookoffs are non-profit and benefit local charities. Just to qualify to cook in the world championship you must win a country, state or regional chili cookoff during the previous year.

"I won the Fillmore (Calif.) cookoff last year to qualify," added Maud. "I like to cook chili. It's great fun."

Maud says she started cooking in chili competitions after a friend got them interested.

"Our friend Darrell Beller won the Ormsby House cookoff in 1984 to qualify for the world, and we thought we can do that," said a laughing Maud. "So we started in 1985. Darrell is still cooking, but he's not here for this cookoff."

Maud and George cooked as a team at the Ormsby House in 1987.

"We finished fourth," said Maud. "We also have cooked at the High Sierra chili cookoff at Lake Tahoe many times and will again this year."

The High Sierra two-day chili cookoff is Sept. 23 and 24.

Back home, both George and Maud have jobs. Maud works for PACTIV Corp. in Bakersfield.

"They make polystyrene products like Hefty bags and things like that," said Maud. "I'm a systems administrator for the quality department. That's kind of a jack-of-all-trades job. I make sure all the equipment is working properly, that the product is good and I train other employees. I've been with them for 30 years."

George works for the Kern Delta Water District in Bakersfield.

"He's the superintendent," noted Maud as she introduced me to George. "He's been with them for 32 years."

COMING TO LIVE HERE - Maud and George aren't planning to work forever and retirement is in sight for the couple.

"We love it here in Carson City and right now we're planning on retiring within the next two years," said Maud happily. "We're looking at retiring here in Carson City. We're going to spend an extra week here after the cookoff and look around. We really like this area."

LET'S TALK MONEY - Maud won $25,000 for capturing the world championship and, being the nosy sort I am, I asked her what she did with the money and if she was surprised when they announced her as the winner.

"I invested what was left after the Uncle Sam got his," she replied with a laugh. "And yes, I was surprised, really, really surprised, when they said I won. Shocked might be a better word. And thrilled too. Winning is like a dream come true."

Maud beat 122 other top chili cooks to win and says she'll be back to defend her world title this year because she "likes winning."

"It was, and is, a once-in-a-lifetime thrill I will never forget," she said. "I hope I can do it again."

Speaking of winning and money, what happened on I've Got A Secret?

"I was so nervous and in a daze when they did the show," said Maud. "I fooled three of the four celebrity panelists. I won $600. You get $200 for each one who was fooled, and if I had fooled them all I would have got $1,000 because you get a $200 bonus for fooling them all. I liked doing it and they sent a limo to Bakersfield for us. It was a great experience and at least I didn't faint."

When will the show air?

"I don't know when it will be on, but they said it will air soon," answered Maud. "They said they'd let me know and I'll relay that information to you when I know."

- For those interested, the ICS has a website where you can keep up with all the latest chili news. It's

SEE THE COOKOFF - Tonight on our Street Talk TV Show we'll show you the Invitational cookoff and, during the one-hour show that airs on CAT-10 at 6 p.m., (repeats Monday at 8 a.m.) you'll get to see Maud as we visit some more with her, talk with Doc and Mary, Bob and Julie Grayson, last week's Virginia City cookoff winner Randy Dietz and a few others.

It's a fun show and at the end we've got a surprise to show you. Remember about two years ago when we did a column with Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini about the movie "Body & Soul" he was filming in Reno?

Not only was I an extra in the movie - playing a ringside photographer - my scenes made it into the movie.

Local pro fighter Miguel Angel Ruiz played Mancini's opponent in one of the fights I was photographer for and Mike Downey, a WNCC instructor, played the other photographer.

Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick played a boxing judge sitting next to us and you can see that fake fight, plus the stars of the movie, Rod Steiger, Joe Mantegna, Jennifer Beals, Tahnee Welch (Raquel's daughter) and Michael Chiklis as we show you that complete fight tonight.

The movie is now available at video stores if you want to see the whole film.

It was a fun thing for me to do and I'm sure I taught those guys a thing or two about acting ....

ALAN ROGERS is a Nevada Appeal columnist. His message phone is 887-2430, ext. 402.


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