Chili cook-off competition heating up

Boasting a lineup of 12 teams, the Fort Frances Times’ annual Great Chili Cook-off is ready to add a little spice to lunch next Friday (Oct. 4).
And if the remarks by some of the chefs are any indicator, competition for the coveted “Chili Bowl” might turn out more like a Mexican gunfight.
Todd Hamilton, president and general manager of Lakeland Personnel, said David Larocque, concocting his “Temporary Inferno” Chili, will be taking the top prize.
“This is the security division of Lakeland Personnel being represented here,” noted Hamilton.
“Dave Larocque has come in first, second, and third in past years at the chili cook-off and we’re looking to return to number-one again,” he added.
“With the security crew, he’s had a year to perform experiments on them. And all of them are still alive,” Hamilton remarked.
“He’s a professional chef. He’s the brains behind it all. I’ll just be there to serve chili in the appropriate amounts.”
While Lakeland Personnel has been represented at least three times in the cook-off, Hamilton himself has never been in it.
“My wife [Jody] and I have baked cakes [for the cake roulette] so we’ve helped out in that way,” he said. “But this way, we’ll take the chili prize and we’ll sell the cake to you for dessert.”
Dr. Bruce Lidkea, another first-time competitor, said he and the staff at Lidkea, Elliott and Lidkea still are perfecting the recipe for his “Eye Watering” Chili.
“We’re going into a top-secret meeting some time this week and doing some research and development.
“It’s a group effort. We’re going to make the chili cook-off a several day event for us,” added Dr. Lidkea, a self-proclaimed “big food fan.”
“Only time will tell what we come up with. The only thing I can say is it will have no haggis in it,” he remarked.
Lu Caul of Lu’s in Ericsburg, Mn., about 10 km south of International Falls, is yet another newcomer to the chili cook-off.
She promised she has something “different” in store for the event with her “LAST (Lu’s As Kicking [as it gets] Secret Tongue-twitching)” Chili.
“I don’t know what people are looking for—whether they want something mild or hot—but the true chili connoisseur will be impressed,” she noted.
Caul said she’s been to past Times’ chili cook-offs and knows what to expect.
“This is really a great way to spend a day,” she remarked. “And being a new business owner, it’s a great way to promote that.”
The Times’ team of Rosanne Kellar (who won last year’s cook-off with Jennifer Dent) and Lincoln Dunn are hoping they won’t have to perform Jedi mind tricks to please people with their “May the ‘Forks’ Be With You” Chili.
“I think we’ll do just fine,” said Kellar. “We’ve got some ideas. I just hope they turn out to be good ones.
“Nobody’s ever won twice so it’s not really about that. We just want to go out and have fun,” she added.
But Dunn revealed his motives for teaming up with one-half of last year’s champs were more ambitious.
“I’m hoping she’ll be able to show me the way. Her strength in the light side of ‘the Forks’ will lead us to a repeat of last year,” he vowed.
Micaela Jensen, who will reprsent the Town of Fort Frances along with Darryl Allan and Donna Anderson, admitted her team hopes to woo the judges with a spontaneous creation.
“We’re really not in ship-shape at all. We haven’t thought of a recipe,” she said. “But we will be there with chili in the pot.”
Two years ago, the People’s Choice award ended in a tie between Allan’s (“Taxes” Chili) and Del Cumming, Marg Miller, Edith Newman, and Evie Metke’s (“Golden Girls” Chili).
“He came pretty close. We’re really trusting in him to pull us through this time,” noted Jensen.
The name of their chili—tentatively called “Hooters” Chili—is still up in the air.
Another competitor said she’s got a lot of work to do before next Friday.
“I hope I’m ready,” laughed Connie Kress, membership/electoral assistant with Pwi Di Goo Advisory Services, who claims she was “set up” by other office staff there.
“I’m just going to wing it,” she added, referring to her “Pwi Di Good” Chili that’s going to be served up at the cook-off.
Rounding out the competition this year are:
•Kelly Sigurdson—“Nor Fabulous” Chili (Nor Fab Trus staff);
•Laurie Nuttal—“Winning Appeal” Chili (Rainy River District Community Legal Cinic);
•Carol Barrell—“Carol’s Cantenna Thundering” Chili (Carol’s Canteen);
•Bart White—“Black Bart’s CTC [Classic Tasty Chill]” (Canadian Tire);
•Dennis Roach—“High Voltage” Chili (DJ Roach Electric); and
•Cheryl Goldamer and Maureen Calder—“MoCherié Potlickin’” Chili (Sunset Country Ford).
The event will be held in the Times parking lot from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.—or whenever the chili runs out.
Cost is $4 for a bowl of chili, a bun, and a drink. Or taste some of each type with the $6 sampler and then vote for your favourite.
The always popular cake roulette will be held once again, with donated baked goods up for bid. To donate a cake, call Susan Martin at 274-5373.
All proceeds from the chili cook-off go to local food banks.