Helping Hands holds first chili cook-off
by Hawkins Teague
Jan 30, 2008 | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At times, one could hardly get to the pots of chili because of the crowd surrounding them.
At times, one could hardly get to the pots of chili because of the crowd surrounding them.
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Serious chili cooks are a picky bunch. They each have their own idea of what makes a good chili, and often prefer their own to any other. Still, tasting a variety of recipes is still enough to pique their interest and get their stomachs grumbling.

This was the thinking behind the latest Helping Hands fundraiser, which was held Sunday at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church. Thirteen different chefs prepared their own specialties and lined them up on a long table for all to sample. When the taster enjoyed the chili, he or she put down a dollar bill. Whoever had the most money next to their pot would be the winner, and the rest of the cash went to the local charity.

After Helping Hands volunteers spent the afternoon playing games, the time arrived for the cooks to unveil their masterpieces. When cofounder K.G. Ariagno announced that is was time to heat the pots and start stirring, the cooks scrambled to the kitchen as if in a race.

“This is trial and error,” Ariagno said, observing the chaos. “We don’t know what we’re doing, but we’re having fun anyway.”

Small polystyrene cups were stacked next to each kettle so that participants could take small samples to compare the entries. Some people were cautious and others dove right in, like Andrew Bryant, whose father, John had entered. After one of his first samples, Bryant rushed to the nearby sink abate the fieriness in his mouth.

“Already, John’s son has tears in his eyes,” Ariagno said.

The recipes could not have been much more diverse. They included a spicy chili made with stringy pieces of beef; a hot chili with a cinnamon flavor from Cadiz Record reporter and food columnist Alan Reed; a chili more liquid-based with lots of tomato chunks and a tangy flavor; a dark recipe with a thick taste and a hint of sweetness; and a very spicy kind that took a few spoonfuls to creep up on the taster. Some were extremely beefy and some were not. Some were chock full of beans, and some weren’t. Some had a consistent texture and some would have almost taken half a bowl to sample all the ingredients.

For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.
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