The Office’s Brian Baumgartner Talks About His New Chili Book and Upcoming Signing in Philadelphia

-Brenda Hillegas
photo by Adam Hendershott

Season Five. Episode 26. “Casual Friday”. It’s been 13 years since Dunder Mifflin accountant Kevin Malone spilled his huge pot of chili across the office floor. But since then, the actor who portrays him, Brian Baumgartner, has been a big part of the chili game. Yeah, it’s a thing. In fact, Brian was invited by the International Chili Society to be one of their World Championship Chili Cook-Off judges in 2021. And he’s been working on perfecting his own chili recipe, figuring out the best balance of ingredients to create a pot that shouldn’t be spilled!

Do you want to try it?

Brian, who is also a New York Times best-selling author (Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The Office), is ready to share not only his “Perfect Pot of Chili” with the world…but also 176 other recipes. His latest book, Seriously Good Chili Cookbook, includes chili recipes contributed by celebrity chefs, restaurant owners, industry leaders, and chili cook-off champions. You’ll also find chili facts, cooking tips with QR codes for cooking tutorials, and of course Kevin Malone’s recipe too!

Brian will be coming to Philadelphia this Saturday, September 17th, for a book signing at Drexel University’s Barnes and Noble. Details can be found here. Until then, get to know more about the book- and what Brian thinks Kevin would be up to these days- in our Q&A below.

Q: Like your character in The Office, Kevin Malone, you love chili; in your opinion, what makes a chili recipe “seriously good”?
A: Well, first off, we have many World Champions represented in this cookbook. Chefs who have won the World Championship Chili Cookoff, an event that has been happening for over 50 years! So I’d say if you are a world champion…it must be seriously good. And after that- we just included the ones we liked. And didn’t stop till we had to roll the presses. The publisher, Fox Chapel, wanted 100 recipes, and I wasn’t sure we would make it. But we blew that number away.

Q: What inspired you to create the Seriously Good Chili Cookbook?
A: Well as I talk about in the book… I have kind of turned into the “chili guy” over the last decade or so. And as I’ve become immersed in chili (attending and judging at the World Championships last year), I saw how many types and flavors existed, and how creative people have become with their chili. I wanted people to be able to explore different types and experiment with creating their own while understanding what is possible. If I can do it- anyone can.

Q: How did you pick the 177 recipes in the book? What made them the perfect fits?
A: We wanted different types. Different regions. Different flavors. Different ingredients. But most of all, we wanted them all to be good. I was just told by someone on Instagram that they got accepted into the book, I liked his recipe, but he recently realized our email to him accepting him went into his spam folder. And he never followed up. We sent him four emails so we must have really wanted it! So I guess there should have been 178.

Q: The book also includes facts about chili throughout the pages. What fact(s) did you find to be the most interesting or didn’t know until writing this book?
A: That it has been said that during The Great Depression, chili saved more lives than the Red Cross. I guess it was a wildly popular dish and helped feed people when they were going through their hardest times. Pretty cool.

Q: Kevin spilled his famous chili over a decade ago – where do you think he would be now in the chili game, in 2022?
A: Still working on the recipe. Still perfecting it. And still once a year wanting to share it with all of his friends. The cameras might not have shown it- but I hope every year since “the incident” he has been bringing it wherever he works for everyone to enjoy.

Q: Philly is a big foodie city – any stand-out recipes in this book that will really wow us? Which should we try first?
A: Ummmmm… mine of course! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Try Brian’s chili and many more in Seriously Good Chili Cookbook, available everywhere now. Visit seriouslygoodchilicookbook.com for additional information and to order your copy today!

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