It may have been downright cold early Friday morning but by 11 a.m., three judges undoubtedly were keeping warm while savouring the 10 varieties up for grabs during the Times’ fifth-annual Great Chili Cook-off.
And when all was tasted and done, it was Phyllis Johnson and Marie Gregory’s “Fabrication Chili” that was named “Best Chili” in this year’s competition.
“It’s my mother’s soup recipe,” said Johnson. “We took the pasta out and put the beans in.”
When asked if she had much input into the winning chili, Gregory replied, “I just stirred the pot.”
Fire Chief Steve Richardson—who judged along with Teresa Hazel, director of the Riverside Foundation for Health Care, and Rev. Patrick Playfair of the Knox United Church—said choosing a winner wasn’t easy.
“I’d certainly say hats off to all the chefs. There wasn’t a bad one in the bunch and it was a tough decision,” said Chief Richardson, though adding none were too hot and spicy for a firefighter such as himself.
“I’d certainly do it again,” he added.
Meanwhile, the People’s Choice award ended in a tie between Darryl Allan’s (“Taxes Chili”) and Del Cumming, Marg Miller, Edith Newman, and Evie Metke’s (“Golden Girls Chili”).
While town tax collector Ed Katona showed up Friday afternoon to accept Allan’s prize after he “mysteriously disappeared,” Allan said yesterday he was honoured.
“It really made my day. I wear [the prize hat and apron] with pride,” he remarked.
Allan noted the recipe was almost the same one he’s been using for years. “I took my basic recipe, and a suggestion from Einar’s to mix my ground beef with ground pork.
“And my wife suggested I add a little sugar,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Cumming said the award was a surprise as she and her friends only entered the cook-off for fun.
“Making the chili was a party. Somebody cooked the meat, somebody cut the onions . . . it was fun, and we’d probably do it again,” she enthused.
Cumming stressed it was a group effort to come up with a taste they were all happy with but added there was no “secret ingredient” to give it a winning edge.
“It’s just ordinary chili,” she said.
The other chili contenders included Celeste’s and the Den (“Hair Raising Chili”), Lawrence Philips (“Habeus Corpus Chili”), Fort Frances Times (“I Can See the Headlines Now Chili”) Northern Lights Credit Union (“Gee I See Chili”), Gillons’ Insurance (“Come Taste Gillons’ Hot Deal Chili”), Bonnie Blue (“This Week’s Jackpot Chili”), Holmlund Financial (“Rip Roaring Superior Product Chili”), and NDP leader Howard Hampton (“Campaign Chili”).
On a more serious note, this year’s cook-off brought in about $1,200, which will go to local food banks.
“I’m pleased with the turnout. I was a little concerned with the weather at first,” noted Susan Martin, who organized the cook-off for the third time.
“But everyone worked together to make it go smoothly.”