Eight cooks put their chili to the test when Villagers gathered at the Tugaloo Beach Pavilion for a Tellico Village HomeOwners Association cook-off.
About 85 residents were present for the two-hour competition Oct. 29. Visitors checked in, were given a spoon, tasting cup and a ballot and stopped by tables for different takes on chili. Once finished, tasters submitted their ballot for best chili.
Although recipes aren’t actively encouraged to be creative, Patti Mau, HOA member, said the cooks typically end up offering unique takes on chili.
“We just leave it to them,” Mau said. “I mean it ends up very creative. I mean we’ve gone from chili with cinnamon to chocolate to there’s one this year that’s all vegetarian, has yams and quinoa and something else.”
Diane Delgouffre has led the way all four years of the event.
“That’s pretty much all of our events are social opportunities, and the ones that want to put their chili recipe out there, it gives them an opportunity for recognition,” Delgouffre said. “Mostly just social.”
The social aspect is what Ellen Fox, HOA president, highlighted as a plus for the contest. Fox served as one of three judges, with the others being New Villagers President Marty Inkrott and Yacht Club lead chef Juan Castro.
The winning recipe will be on the Yacht Club menu Tuesday through Saturday, Castro said.
“Our mission and our vision is to help our members be engaged, be informed and be heard, and this is people participating,” Fox said. “It also kind of promotes the Village because the winner will get the chili served at the Yacht Club for a week, which is I think a really nice thing. It maybe gets a little more, not that the Yacht Club needs more advertising, but gets a little more exciting. It’s just something different, whatever the right term is, so it’s really just a fun, cool thing, and people get really competitive.
“Some of the people, the cooks are really dressed up,” she added. “They creatively named some of their chilis and I wasn’t allowed to walk around because then we could guess what it is we’re judging. … It just winds up being kind of fun and a good thing for the Village.”
Vicki Mahan dressed as Raggedy Ann for her vegetarian chili that included quinoa, black beans and sweet potato. She drew inspiration from a recent trip to Boston.
“I tasted a similar chili a couple of weeks ago in Boston and they wouldn’t give me the recipe but I was like, ‘I can figure this out,’ and I nailed it,” Mahan said. “… I’ve never cooked vegetarian chili before, and you would never guess there’s no meat in it.”
Mahan left impressed with the cook-off.
“I think that it’s run really well, and it brings out people. It’s always a fun event, and it’s well done,” she said.
Paul Stanko’s Ash-kickin’ Chili won the judge’s award, and Mike Blackwell’s 3 Alarm Texas Chili won people’s choice.