Allee Willis’ Kitsch ‘O The Day – Chili-ing At Chili John’s

It’s rare I have a weekday that’s not stuffed with work, a mish-mash of songwriting, blogging, curating, working on my next live Super Ball Bounce Back show, etc., etc., etc.  But last Friday was one such day and I spent most of it at one of my favorite still-standing places in Burbank, Chili John’s. This is such a serious chili pad I even took the Wienermobile there a few weeks ago:

Chili John’s started in 1900 and is still going strong in Green Bay, Wis.

Chili John’s Burbank, the only offspring, was erected in 1946. All they serve are dishes topped with SERIOUS chili.

The prices are a little different than back in the ’60′s:

As usual, Mark Blackwell documented my culinary experience:

I spent a lot of time documenting the decor:

The entire restaurant is a U-shaped array of formica and bright orange vinyl:

Even the light switches go way back:

In the center of the counter there are vats of different strength chili:

The neon clock over the entrance to the kitchen is classic:

LOVE the fake flower pots and the ‘Chili John’s’ that rim the walls as they meet the ceiling all the way around the restaurant:

But nothing kills me more than the wall mural that runs along the entire east side of the restaurant:

As photogenic as the decor is, I spent most of my time photographing the food:

And what food it is! The chili dogs, with varying-degrees-of -spiciness-chili are INSANE…::

…as are the Sloppy Johns:

The chopped onions add a crispiness to make for a cornucopia of textural wonderness.

You can get a glimpse  of other dishes here. All the foodstuffs are definitely a two-fisted job:

Mark and I started with the excessively wonderful and creamy lemon pie, pictured below but solo-photo-of-which I forgot to take, and then dove backwards into the main course. As you can see, the take home cartons were already poised to be loaded:

Here I am in the kitchen to check out how the secret seasonings are brewed:

Owner Alec  Loguercio pours the fixin’s into a giant grinder:

Then it’s all tossed into a pot that’s so big it’s stirred with an oar:

Chili John’s is a family run joint. Alec…,

…and his mom, Debbie,…

…who was there the day we pulled up in the Wienermobile.:

Sue Mell, family friend, also pitches in:

It’s no secret that I love hot dogs. I don’t care what’s in them (though Chili John’s offers a choice of beef, chicken or vegetarian dogs).  They’re health food for the soul.

Put that hot dog under a bed of homemade chili and then put that chili dog in a setting like Chili John’s with a seriously friendly staff and the smell of simmering garlic tickling your membranes and you’ve got one happy chilin’ Allee Willis!

 

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Categories: Food, Kitchen, Kitsch, Place

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Cake Sponges

I don’t know about you but anytime I’ve tried to use a sponge made out of this kind of super-aerated foam I may as well be dragging a Kleenex over what I’m trying to clean. In other words, this never would have made it home with me had  the three sponges that comprise it arranged into anything other than a piece of cake. Although it’s a little generous to call sponge #3, the strawberry, a sponge:

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Allee Willis’ Trip O’ The Day – Koffee Klatch In Monterey

A few weeks ago, on the dawn of Hanukah, me, Snappy P a.k.a. Prudence Fenton, and Wendy Goldman-Rohm hopped into the mustache van and headed north to Snappy’s family pad in Monterey. We stopped at my favorite place on earth, The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, for a little Christmas shopping on the way.

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Turkey Topper

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! May you have much turkey, tofurkey or whatever else you choose to stuff yourself with today!

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Wisconsin Cow Udder Cup

As you read this, I’m boiling away in Kenosha, Wisconsin where I’m attending two friends’ wedding. Getting up at 4:30 AM to make the plane here didn’t make me the happiest of campers but at least I had the foresight to sip my barely-morning joe out of this udderly fantastic souvenir Wisconsin cup in attempts to enter the proper dairy state state of mind.

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Categories: Animals, Drink, Furniture and Housewares, Kitchen, School, Sports, Travel, Travel souvenir

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Bowler’s Coffee Cup

I’m not a bowler. But I AM a bowling-kitsch-artifact collector crazy person. Bowling was THE happy-go-lucky, stylish, social sport of the 1950′s. So it follows that I would like anything that involves bowling balls and the accoutrements that accompany it, even occasionally lifting the ball myself and tossing it down the lane for the inevitable gutter ball.

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Happy Father’s Day ‘Papa’ Cup

I have a problem with lettering on cups when the word is short yet from no angle on the cup can you see the entire word.

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – I’m in the New York Times today!

Nice, big, fat story in the Times on me today + 12 photos. Thank you, Bob Morris, for seeking me out (no press agent involved here!) and writing such a heartfelt, spirited, and happily long piece. My house thanks you too (at least the part of it that made the photo)!

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Vintage Phillips 66 Salt & Pepper Shakers

I’m about to tool around LA today looking for more kitschy architecture that I may have missed in my 9 trillion similar such drives and, as all my drives start out, the first stop will be to hit the pumps for a full tank of gas. If only gas was still as cheap as it used to be I could be cruising up the coast of California in search of kitsch palaces instead of just hitting the neighborhood.

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Baking A Cherpumple With Charles Phoenix VIDEO!

This short film of my bff Charles and I baking his acclaimed Cherpumple, three pies stuffed inside of three cakes, is as much about a great friendship as it is about a brilliant and inventive edible. A frequent guest of Martha Stewart as well as a vintage slide show impresario, Charles is a kitschmeister of the highest order. We go on weekend drives a lot together, often in search of kitschifyingly wonderful foodstuffs. But recently we had an incredible kulinary adventure right here at Willis Wonderland baking the aforementioned Cherpumple.

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