Here's a pot of what I consider "base" chili -- what you get when you remove all non-chili ingredients:
You can push this in a lot of directions with spices alone -- some cinnamon, a touch of cloves etc. and you've got Cincinnati-style, and very good it is, too. I stuck with salt, pepper, paprika ("hot"), a little cumin, even less garlic, and some cilantro, chives and basil. The end result is fairly mild -- I could have used another Hatch chili -- but flavorful.
And then I added some "secret ingredient:" Peri-peri sauce. You can think of it as South African hot sauce (since that's what it is) and even the stuff the store sells as "mild" packs a nice punch. Lots of flavor along with, in a vaguely Worchesetershire-ish direction but not nearly as astringent. Perked that chili right up.
Midwesterners, used to "chili" as a mild red stew with kidney beans and elbow macaroni (plus beef, onions and tomatoes) will look askance at this. Beans can be added if desired, and I probably will for leftovers (black or pinto beans? H'mmm), and since I am, after all, a Midwesterner, I did serve this over some angel hair pasta, at least in my bowl. YMMV. --"May vary?" This is chili; it almost certainly will vary.
6 months ago