By Jelane A. Kennedy
The winter seems to have been blistering cold most of the time this year. Off and on there has been snow but not always quite enough to actually play in. I don’t mind winter if I can be outside, give me a beautiful snowfall and a bright blue day where the sky sparkles and I can be happy. But this winter with the multiple days of bitter coldness has been difficult at times. So Schroon Lakes 3rd annual Chili Cook off was a refreshing break from it all.
The event took place in the gymnasium of Mountainside Academy, a local private Christian school. When we entered the gym we were given the choice on how to participate, either a standard donation of $15.00 for all tastes you wanted, $1.00 a taste or $5.00 for a bowl of chili. I decided I wanted to taste them all and Eileen decided she really just wanted a bowl. So my job was to try and find one I thought she might enjoy.
Upon entering there was the judges table set up for 7 judges. Around the exterior of the gym were all the tasting stations, some chefs had more than one chili to try but most just had one kind of chili. Many of the chefs’ had their entry heating in crock-pots. When we arrived at 11:30 AM things were just starting and each Chef was at their station with their “Got Chili” apron on. There were 21 different chilies to taste. In the center of the room there were set-up several tables and chairs for us to sit between tastings. As the event progressed the room filled with more people, all ages, sizes and shapes. All ready to visit and taste chili! It was just good being out and about, we even ran into some friends.
A couple of chefs’ lost time during the event due to heating issues but by 1:00 PM that all seemed to be taken care of and everything was in full swing until the event was ready to end at 1:30 PM. Four categories were open for judging: best meaty chili, best veggie chili, best chili fire/rescue and people’s choice. The proceeds to the event went to Schroon Lake EMS. The chili cook off was one of the all volunteer squad’s fundraisers.
After purchasing our tickets, I took the brochure and began my tour of chili. Eileen visited with folks having charged me with finding the right chili she would enjoy. The air was warm with the smells of chili bubbling in each pot. A little tomato here, chili pepper, habanera, green pepper, toss in some mango and maybe a little cocoa powder. There was chili with meat (I.e. ground round, turkey, sausage) or maybe not. Toppings ranged from shredded cheese, sour cream to a square of corn bread and more.
The adventure started with each two-bite cup. After which I would dutifully taste and then write notes as to what struck me about each taste test. Examples of my notes: tasted too hot for flavors, to much tomato flavor, nice blend of spices, topping was an added plus, etc. The question I asked each time, could I eat a whole bowl or was just a bite enough?
After much deliberation, I decided that the one I thought Eileen would like the best was Myriam’s Meatless Chili. So I sent Eileen to give it a try.
“Wow, you picked a winner, I really like this one.”
“What do you think of the pumpkins seeds?”
“Nice touch, did you see the list of ingredients, there was salsa and cocoa in here too?”
In the end we both put our “people’s choice” tokens in Myriam’s cup. It was our number one chili.
It was a great day, with a lot of fun and a nice break in a long cold winter. An event we will visit again.
(c) 2014 Jelane A. Kennedy