7th Chili Cook-off raises thousands

Published 10:59 pm Saturday, January 30, 2016

With a record number of people attending the Chili for Children Cook-Off, the chili ran low but the money raised was high.

In it’s seventh year, the Chili for Children Cook-Off had its largest crowd to date with estimates of possibly more than 3,000, that raised a grand total of $16,450 for the Warren County Children’s Shelter. That’s about $3,000 more than last year.

“I want to say this is one of the better turnouts we’ve had since we’ve been doing this,” said Tami Milazzo, who is on the advisory board for the children’s shelter. She was selling T-Shirts but said a number of people stopped at her table just to donate money.

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“When they know it’s about the children’s shelter, they’re all about it,” Milazzo said.

Most teams ran out of chili less than two hours into the four-hour event. Toward the end of the day only about five of the 22 teams still had chili left to serve.

“It’s been unbelievable,” Warren County Children’s Shelter program director Cindy McCarley said. “And the weather is perfect.”

The teams started arriving around 7:30 a.m. and the public tried to get in as early as 10:30 a.m. on a sunny and clear day.

All different kinds of chili were on display including chicken, steak and deer chili.

John Pelton from Merit Health River Region Medical Center said he used deer tenderloin, beef tenderloin, ground beef and special chilies. Pelton did his research on chili before the event and decided not to use beans because he said traditionally beans were only added to chili when not enough meat was available.

“With chili, like gumbo, there’s no specific recipe,” Pelton said. “Nothing’s right or wrong because its just a conglomeration of so many products.”

He said he would love to win the competition, but it’s really all about the children.

Chris Guy from Ameristar Casino said this was their third year at the cook-off, and they change up their recipe every year. This year’s theme was a southwest chili with prime rid, pork butt and guajillo chiles.

Last year’s winner, River City Misfits, came back for round two with the exact same chili and a railroad theme.

“A lot of people said they loved the chili,” Dan Jackson said. “The bottom line is we’re having a blast.”

This was the third year Kevin Roberts has been at the cook-off. This year his 10South table served chili without beans and added rib eye and New York strip steak. The team also garnished their chili with cornbread and chocolate covered bacon.

The Warren County Southern Cruisers Club made a chicken chili this year.

“Every time we turned around we had to go get another 200 cups,” Ron Branan said. “Of course I probably gave out a little too much.”

EMS Outlaws were participating at the cook-off for the first time. Chandler Jackson cooked 7 gallons of chili that was gone in an hour and a half.

“We’ll know next time to make more,” Christy Davidson said. “We had a ball and we’ll definitely do it again next year.”

Volunteer of the Year, or the Wild Man Shoe Award, went to Dwayne Fuller. Best decorated Booth went to River City Misfits, and the people’s choice award went to Elevate Church. Third place was awarded to Nobie’s, second place went to Austin’s Camp Chili and the winner was Ameristar.