They may been rookies to the annual Great Chili Cook-off but the Fort Frances Times’ team of Rosanne Kellar and Jennifer Dent wooed the three judges with their “2001: A Chili Odyssey” last Friday.
“I knew we had really good chili but I didn’t know how the judges would react to it,” Kellar said mere hours after claiming the “Best Chili” plaque along with Dent.
“I kind of took it to heart when the judges [Don Patrick, Robin Wright, and Nellie Halverson] came back and asked for seconds,” she added.
Dent gave her take on what put their concoction over the top.
“I think it was all the goodies,” she said, referring to the two kinds of corn bread, the mixed vegetables, sour cream cheese, and other condiments the pair were offering up with their chili.
“And not having too hot of a chili is also important. I think it was good chili. I don’t eat a lot of spicy food but I could eat this,” added Dent, who not only hadn’t cooked chili for the cook-off before—she’d never even been to it in its six-year history.
“It was more hectic and busy than I thought it would be,” she noted.
Kellar, who had been to the cook-off before but never cooked chili for it, said it was an exciting time. “It was so much fun and so much work at the same time. I hope to be able to do it next year,” she remarked.
“And it was fun working with Jen. I got a chance to know her. We work in different departments so we hadn’t got a chance to talk much,” added Kellar.
But last year’s chili champs—Phyllis Johnson and Marie Gregory of Crazy Ladies Fabrics—didn’t go out without a whimper. They took home the “People’s Choice” award out of the 13 teams competing at this year’s cook-off.
“Well, the weather was definitely a factor. We had a super time this year,” said Johnson, who noted she stuck with the same recipe as last year.
“I had considered retiring the recipe. But now, I’m not so sure,” she laughed.
Meanwhile, a record crowd of 350 people showed up for the Great Chili Cook-off, raising $1,300 for local food banks.
“The response was phenomenal,” said Times office manager Linda Plumridge.
“I think the weather had something to do with it,” noted organizer Susan Martin, referring to the balmy fall day. “But every year, we get calls asking about it.
“It’s become a real fun thing—a community event.”
She added the fact it was held a week earlier than usual also could have been a factor since next weekend could have seen more people leaving town for the long weekend.
But perhaps the greatest indicator of the event’s success was the rate at which visitors gobbled up the Mexican fare. “We were out of chili shortly after 12:30 p.m.,” noted Martin, who was still surprised by the huge crowd.
Also competing in this year’s Great Chili Cook-off were:
•Sherry Armstrong and Dr. Mike Gerstner (Fort Frances Dental Centre)—“Novacaine Special II”;
•Darryl Allan (Town of Fort Frances)—“Centennial Chili”;
•Barb Stainke (Bonnie Blue)—“Jackpot Chili”;
•Guy Klem (West End Motors)—“Raging Ram Chili”;
•Sue Thomson, Bill Toffan, and Paul Danku (CFOB)—“Danku Very Much Chili”;
•Rebecca Webb and Jeff Romanyshyn (CIBC)—“Canadian Interest Bearing Chili”;
•Rosanne Flatt (Alpha Upsilon Society)—“Nothin’ Wild, Nothin’ Frilly, Just Alpha Upsilon Society Chili”;
•Nikki Angus and Tara Caul (Celeste’s and The Den)—“Barely Irresistible Chili”;
•Susan Bodnarchuk and Bruce Holmlund (Holmlund Financial Services)—“B.S. Western Chili”; and
•Kim Anderson and Josie Miller (Northern Lights Credit Union)—“Rising Returns Chili.”