Chili madness reigned under the tent in the Times parking lot once again this year when almost 500 people showed up for last Friday’s "Great Chili Cookoff"--and helping to raise nearly $1,500 in support of area food banks.
"Texas Chili," the recipe blended by Brian Reid, Emo reeve and owner of the Fairway Store there, took first-place honours in the eyes of the official chili judges.
He also topped the people’s choice.
"Mortgage Burning Chili" (Anne and Alan Zucchiatti of Rainy Lake Realty) and "Last Year’s Leftovers (concocted by reigning champ Dave LaRocque of the Red Dog Inn) tied for second by the judges.
Tying for third were "Spitfire Chili" (Barb Tibbs of the Video Stop), "Chili Con College" (Bev, Fay and Don of Confederation College), and "Rev Yer Engine Chili (Guy Klem of West End Motors).
"I didn’t really figure on winning," chuckled Reeve Reid on Monday. "And that’s not what was most important anyway. It was for the cause."
Reeve Reid said he enjoyed participating in the cookoff, and noted the surroundings had improved dramatically from last year’s inaugural event.
"It was a little nicer set-up and wasn’t so crowded," he said. "And I liked the way they marked the little [sample] dishes so people knew what chili they were eating."
Cookoff co-organizer Debbie Logan, advertising manager at the Times, was most pleased with the event, noting it received more than ample backing from the community.
"I wasn’t disappointed at all with the turnout," she enthused. "I saw many business people and downtown merchants there. It was well supported."
"This is the kind of thing people do support," she added.
"It was absolutely wonderful," echoed chili lover and Fort High janitor Lori Caul, who sampled nearly all 16 of the chilis.
"Some were good and some weren’t," she reasoned. "And I spent all kinds of money on the cake roulette and I won a cake [for a friend]."
Official chili judge John McTaggart said he found the cookoff to be a very interesting ordeal, noting most samples he tasted weren’t too hot--except for one.
"It was absolutely a culinary delight," he chuckled. "I think it was a super event."
"And I only had one real experience with heat and I think it was ‘In the Heat of the Night,’" he noted.
Meanwhile, Dora Kloosterman, who attended the cookoff with her husband, Ron, enjoyed the event very much despite a run-in with some very hot chili. And she’s determined to enter a batch of her own next year.
"It was really nice and there was some really good chili," she said, noting that she sampled eight different recipes.
"The [‘Chili Con College’] was the nicest and the [police] one was so hot. There were flames coming off your ears after that one," she chuckled.
"I think I would like to enter next year but I don’t think it’s fair that the ordinary guy has to compete with the chefs," she noted.
While the total proceed raised hadn’t been determined by press time yet, organizers estimated about $1,000 was raised through the chili cookoff.
About another $500 was raised through the "Great Cake Roulette," which featured more than 50 delectable desserts donated by local residents.