Hot time cooked up at annual chili cook-off

by Kyle Reid

Sweet and spicy aromas filled the air inside the Shaheen Community Room inside the Essex Centre Sports Complex last Thursday as Essex Community Services hosted its 10th annual Chili Cook-off competition.

  Volunteers and supporters, representing local businesses and organizations, offered a taste of some of their most mouth-watering chili recipes to event attendees. In total, 23 varieties of chili were offered as part of the all-you-can-eat chilli festival, with guests casting votes for their favourite flavours.  

  Tony DeRyk from Kennedy Funeral Home won the coveted People’s Choice award, but judges on hand had a different pick for their favourite chili, selecting Terry McDermott for the first place $75 prize in the blind taste test.

  Crystal Dewar with the Essex Legion took second place in the cook-off, and Savanah Kungel from Chartwell Rest Home’s entry was chosen for the third place prize. Dewar and Kungel took home $50 and $25, respectively, with Kungel donating her winnings back to Essex Community Services. 

  This year’s event raised over $1,200 for Essex Community Services, which supports a number of crucial community initiatives in Essex County.

  The event, however, is more about creating community connections than raising money, according to the organization’s Executive Director, Kelly Stack.

  “This is a really good community networking fundraiser,” Stack said. “It doesn’t make us a ton, which is fine. We just find it really brings people together. That’s why we continue to do it.”

  This year’s cook-off featured submissions from organizations across Essex County, with patrons eager to try each delectable concoction. While the cook-off may not be the organization’s most profitable fundraiser, Stack said she has seen the event grow tremendously since its inception, bringing chili lovers from across the county together in the process.

  “It’s slowly been climbing,” Stack said, noting the event began 10 years ago as a fundraiser hosted by the Essex Centre BIA, featuring a small offering of seven varieties of chili.

  Stack thanked everyone who supported Essex Community Services through the cook-off.

  “We’re just happy to be in the community doing what we do,” Stack said.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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