When making chili, everyone has his or her own mix of spices they use to bring out their favorite chili flavors. In competition chili, cooks usually add the spices for chili in two or three spice dumps.
The first addition, or dump, occurs when cooking the chili meat. Spices such as cumin, garlic, and red pepper are not usually put in this first dump because they cannot withstand the prolonged cooking times without drastically altering the flavor of the spices.
The next spice dump occurs when the sauce is cooked. Typically, the meat and the sauce, or gravy, are cooked separately when making competition chili. so the meat spices count as one dump and the gravy counts as the 2nd dump.
When serving, the meat is placed in a chili competition cup then the gravy is poured over the meat before presenting to the judges. There are no beans in chili that is entered for judging in a cook-off. Competitors add beans to chili that will be tasted by spectators in order for the chili to feed more people.
Sometimes, cooks prefer to add the gravy to the meat during cooking. If they decide upon this method, there is usually a 3rd spice dump for the final flavor. This chili spice dump usually includes cumin, garlic, and finely ground red peppers. These spices add more robust flavor when added at the end of a cooking cycle.