Chili contenders gear up for cookoff

With names like “Cactus Jack’s Death Valley Chili,” “Yer’ In Trouble Chili,” and “Labourin’ To Eat It Chili” about to be dished out at the third-annual “Great Chili Cookoff” on Friday, chances are there will be no shortage of adventures in taste.
Slated to kickoff at 11 a.m. under the tent in the Fort Frances Times parking lot, 13 chefs are lined up to take aim at dethroning reigning chili champ Reeve Brian Reid of Emo.
Proceeds from the event, including what is raised through the popular “Great Cake Roulette,” will be donated to local food banks.
While Reeve Reid had yet to re-design his recipe from a year ago, he said he would be using chunks of meat instead of ground beef this time around to enhance the texture of his “Champ Chili.”
“I’m really just going to wing it–fly by the seat of my pants,” he boasted.
On the other hand, Times staff writer Mark Elliott, who is teamed up with CFOB morning man Paul Bradley for this year’s cookoff, has been planning out his half of the “Media Madness Chili” for some time.
“It’s going to be meaty, very meaty. It’s breakin’ chili and it’s bound to be good,” he mused last week. “It will be honest chili and we won’t rely heavily on sensationalism.”
Also up for contention are Kenora MPP Frank Miclash with “Miclash Grit Chili,” local MPP Howard Hampton, and Times staffers Jennifer Harvie and Cheryl Behan with a meatless “Chili of Penultimate Grooviness.”
These chili chefs claim to have secret ingredients in their recipes–and have no plans to divulge them beforehand.
“This is one [recipe] I am quite famous for throughout the northwest,” boasted Miclash from his Kenora constituency office yesterday.
“It has a secret combination of herbs and spices, and [people] will be back for seconds and thirds,” he added.
“My chili is a trade secret,” countered Hampton, admitting he might be getting a hand from his staff–but only with the shopping.
Harvie and Behan, on the other hand, said they were dealing on a higher plain of creativity and expected a crowd frenzy over their chili.
“It’s higher than ultimate. The secret ingredient is the main one that makes it penultimate,” said Harvie, evidently not knowing just what the definition of penultimate is.
“[People] will know what it is when they taste it,” smiled Behan, who evidently didn’t know what it meant, either.
(But to their credit, they are the team that’s having the most fun so far).
Andy Lesko, representing Riverside Health Care Facilities Inc., will be on hand to dish out his “Yer’ In Trouble” version, which he claimed was an old family recipe with a bit of a bite.
“It’s an old recipe handed down from father to son. It should be satisfactory to most people but zesty,” he said yesterday.
Meanwhile, Bruce Caldwell contends his “Justice Chili” will tip the scales of goodness. “It will do justice to the palate–and you can draw your own conclusions from that,” he said.
Caldwell did reveal his chili will contain mostly home-grown produce, including chile peppers and tomatillos.
“But, of course, disclosure of some the ingredients is closely guarded prior to judgement by the triers,” he noted.
Rounding out the line-up are Lois Witherspoon (La Verendrye Hospital Auxiliary) with “Aux-Y-Gen Chili,” Kim Cornell and Blair Lowey (Rainy River Valley Meats) with “Holistic Chili,” Stephanie Hawkins with “La Raspa Chili,” local MPP Howard Hampton with “NDP Trail Blazin’ Chili,” and Jack Fiset with “Cactus Jack’s Death Valley Chili.”
Rainy River Valley Meats, owned by the Brielmann, Schmutz, VanderWekken, and Cornell families, has donated all the hamburger for the chili chefs–which works out to 96 pounds of beef.
It will cost those on hand $3 for a bowl, or $5 for “samplers.”
The ever-popular cake roulette will feature 40 cakes up for grabs. The cost to enter is a loonie.