For the past 16 years, The Exceptional Foundation (TEF)'s Chili Cook-Off has consistently been one of the most anticipated events of Birmingham's social scene, and we're excited to share this year will be no exception! Things will look a little different this year, due to COVID-19, but the 17th Annual MortgageBanc Chili Cook-Off will take place on May 1, 2021 along with the new addition of a new kick-off event on March 6th.

TEF has been working hard to adapt the Chili Cook-Off to adhere to CDC guidelines and COVID safety precautions, and with advice from local health experts, they have moved the event from early March to the first of May to provide the safest experience for patrons, staff, volunteers, and participants.

Chili Cook-Off Sponsor Registration Now Open

Interested in sponsoring a team at The Chili Cook-Off? Sponsor registration is now open. Click here to view sponsorship and registration information. Teams are reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning with corporate sponsors. Corporate sponsorships are available at various levels of contribution. Only corporate sponsors are permitted to advertise or distribute promotional items at the event. Last year's corporate sponsors will be given the opportunity to participate first, followed by new sponsors. Last year's individual teams will then be given the opportunity to participate. If there are still spots available at that point, TEF will fill new individual teams. If you want to be put on the list to be called when teams open up, please email

First-Ever Chili Kick-Off - March 6th at Avondale Brewing

For the last 16 years, the first Saturday in March has been reserved for the annual Chili Cook-Off. From the early days in the TEF parking lot to recent years in the Brookwood Village Macy’s parking lot, teams from the Birmingham community have cooked over 20,000 gallons of chili in support of TEF's mission to provide a special place for those with special needs.

While this year may look different, as the main event has been moved to May 1st, TEF does not want to disappoint supporters on the first Saturday in March. Which means TEF will hold TWO events!

First up will be the first-ever Chili Kick-Off, the pre-party warmup to the Chili Cook-Off! This will be a smaller, limited ticket event at Avondale Brewing on Saturday, March 6th from 12 to 6 with a great lineup of live music, beer, food, socially-distanced fun, and Chili Cook-Off raffle items. All tickets proceeds and a percentage of beer sales will benefit TEF. Tickets are $20 available here.

17th Annual MortgageBanc Chili Cook-Off - May 1st at Colonial Brookwood Village

TEF's largest annual event is the Chili Cook-Off, which ranks as one of Birmingham's Best Annual Charity Events in About Town's annual reader's poll every year. The 2020 Chili Cook-Off featured 158 cook teams and was attended by over 12,000 people. Mark your calendars for the 17th Annual MortgageBanc Chili Cook-Off Benefiting The Exceptional Foundation on Saturday, May 1, 2021!

2020 Chili Cook-Off Photos

Check out About Town's photo gallery from the 2020 Chili Cook-Off event!

The Exceptional Foundation : A Special Place for those with Special Needs

The Exceptional Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was established in 1993 to serve individuals with special needs in the Greater Birmingham area by targeting social and recreational objectives not met by educational institutions or the community at large. Initially, a small group of individuals with special needs were organized to meet on a daily basis at a Homewood Parks and Recreation facility. A capital campaign in 1999 allowed The Exceptional Foundation to build its own 12,000 square foot recreational and administrative facility adjacent to the previous location at Homewood Park. An essential second capital campaign was launched in 2006 to fund an addition to the existing facility in order to meet rising program enrollment numbers. In 2014, The Exceptional Foundation launched its third capital campaign to fund its Jay Harbert Youth Center, expanding our building to 32,235 square feet and allowing us to further increase our youth enrollment numbers.