Keith Marks of Sandy Springs is one of the organizers of the kosher BBQ event.

Just as the temperatures start to cool, the local food festival season is heating up.

A variety of local groups are lighting a flame under their cookware and invite the public to come out and dine.

About 100 cooking teams will turn out their best chili dishes during the first Brookhaven Chili Cook Off, scheduled for Sept. 22.

From noon to 8 p.m., both amateur and professional cooks will do their best to wow judges with their spicy stews.

The family-friendly event is being staged at 2740 Apple Valley Road, within walking distance of the Brookhaven MARTA station, and is being organized by the Brookhaven Arts Alliance, the same crew that stages the Taste of Brookhaven.

“Our goal is to have an arts center with a gallery, places to teach and a place to host events,” said Gretchen Roberts, executive director of the Alliance. “So all proceeds of the day will benefit the Alliance.”

Along with food, the crowd will find live music, artists’ displays, and beer and wine. Admission is free; there is a nominal charge for tastes. For details, visit:

On Oct. 14, three members of Congregation B’nai Torah’s Brotherhood are bringing the metro area a first. The Kosher BBQ Competition will feature 35 teams vying for the title of best brisket, ribs, beans, team name and booth design. What makes the event unusual is the single requirement that food served must meet kosher standards.

“That means there’s kosher beef, and no milk and meat mixing,” said organizer Brian Mailman of Dunwoody. “All the ingredients are either meat or vegetarian.”

Mailman and fellow barbecuers Matt Dickson and Keith Marks got the idea for an Atlanta-based kosher cook-off after competing in similar contests in other cities.

“It all started as a guy’s weekend away and led to us going to five competitions,” said Mailman. “But I’m not a cook. The others do more of that than I do, but I clean it up.”

The event will raise money for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the tuition-assistance ALEF Fund and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Tickets are $10 and allow visitors to taste as much as they’d like. The feast starts at 1 p.m. at Congregation B’nai Torah, 700 Mount Vernon Highway. For more information, go to:

On Sept. 15, the Taste of Chamblee is scheduled to turn a portion of Peachtree Road at Chamblee City Hall, 5468 Peachtree Road, into a smorgasbord. From noon to 6 p.m., a culinary contest will pit area chefs against each other, preparing dishes that will be judged by the tasting public.

Throughout the day, attendees can wander along an art walk, check out a classic car show, listen to live music and sip on beer and wine. Admission is free. Food tickets to sample fare prepared by more than 25 restaurants cost $1 apiece.

This is the fifth year the event has been staged, but it almost didn’t happen, said Sarah Buckley of the Georgia Lions’ Lighthouse Foundation and a Chamblee Business Association member.

“We reached out to the people planning it to see if we could do a 5K that morning, and there was some discussion about not having the event at all,” said Buckley. “They didn’t know who would run it, so we stepped up. It’s been a really good partnership.”

Proceeds from the event benefit the Lighthouse Foundation, which provides vision and hearing services for under and uninsured Georgians. For additional information about the event, go to the website: