They may been rookies to the Great Chili Cook-off, but the Fort Frances Times’ team of Rosanne Kellar and Jennifer Dent managed to woo the judges with their “2001: A Chili Odyssey” at today’s event in the Times’ parking lot.
“I knew we had really good chili. But I didn’t know how the judges would react to it,” said Kellar 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 the what was the winning key. “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 been to it in its six- year history.
“it was more hectic and busy than I thought it would be,” she added.
Kellar, who had been to the cook-off before but had never cooked chili for it either, 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 get to know her. We work in different departments, so we hadn’t got a chance to talk much,” added Kellar.
And after 173 chili fans cast their votes for one of the 13 teams competing at this year’s cook-off, last year’s chili champs Phyllis Johnson and Marie Gregory proved they still have what it takes, and won the People’s Choice Award.
Meanwhile, a record crowd of 350 people showed up to taste some spicy eats, and donate to local food banks by doing so, raising $1,300 for local food banks.
“The response was phenomenal,” said Linda Plumridge, Times office manager.
“I think the weather had something to do with it,” noted 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 also could have been a factor, as next weekend could have seen more people leaving town for the long weekend.
And crowds aside, perhaps the greatest indicator of the event’s success was the rate at which visitors scarfed down those Mexican meals. “We were out of chili shortly after 12:30 p.m.,” noted Martin, who was still surprised by today’s crowds.
Other competitors in this year’s chili cook-off included:
•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 Irresistable 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.”