Lisa Sarmiento – PCA Safety Chair
Competition Blows Up at the Annual Chili Cook-off
Saturday, February 27 a large crowd of High Desert Region members turned out for the annual chili competition and potluck at Kendall Porsche of Bend. Tasty chili, warm cornbread, salads and desserts sated the appetites of hungry attendees. Some found it hard to “save room for dessert” with 12 different chili entrees to sample and vote upon.
The chili entrees were diverse this year featuring ingredients such as turkey or hominy. The mild category held the majority of entrees with just 3 in the spicy section and none in the vegetarian category. The words of TJ Tomjack at the February general meeting were particularly prophetic, he urged members to bring a vegetarian chili since it is a notoriously underrepresented category. With no vegetarian entries pots of rice were moved down to that part of the table and all of the crockpots and rice cookers literally blew the fuse causing us to lose some of the lights halfway through the evening. Attendees took all of this in stride enjoying the beautiful sunset and mood lighting until the fuse box could be located and lights turned back on.
The predominance of mild chili’s and no vegetarian entrants made for some interesting voting. It was obvious that our High Desert Region members refuse to be labeled and reject entries being pigeon holed into any singular category. Karen Clawson won the vegetarian category with a chicken chili back in 2007, thus setting precedence for other types of chili to win when no vegetarian chili is presented. Voting rules were thrown out the window! There were 2 entrees that had votes for spicy, mild and vegetarian making tabulation tricky.
John Donohue decimated the competition with his first ever entry of a no-bean, hominy chili. Donohue garnered almost 50% of the Best Overall vote and his empty crockpot spoke volumes. The Heyward family took home two awards this year. Hack Heyward tried his hand at chili making and took home Best Mild. Andi Heyward, a winner many times over, won Best Spicy. The spicy category pitted past chili cook-off winners against each other with Heyward prevailing over Viki McConnell by a 1-vote margin. New member Tom Atkins came away as the winner of the Vegetarian category.
While the competition was fierce it was friendly. Everyone in attendance won a great evening spent with friends, old and new. The yearly chili cook-off is a relaxed event where members have ample opportunity to get to know each other. Everyone pitches in to make this event happen from set-up to clean up. The teamwork and camaraderie displayed at the cook-off make it a favorite event year after year.