THE SPICY SCENT OF CHILI wafted up the stairs as I entered the church late Sunday afternoon for Trinity Lutheran, Medford’s, second annual Chili Cook-Off.
I shed my winter coat, got instructions on the chili sampling process and then headed downstairs to taste, and judge, 30 homemade chilis. Twas a nearly impossible task given the numbers and the home-cooked goodness.
I’ve found church basement food events to be, with only one exception, superb dining experiences.
Here, in the fellowship of friends, I spooned chili into numbered plastic cups, ate and then attempted to choose my favorites. I had five tickets to cast five votes.
Some I quickly eliminated as too bland or too salty or too ordinary.
I was looking for something savory and different.
In one chili I detected a hint of cinnamon.
Many, as you would expect, tasted of tomato in varying degrees of intensity.
Chocolate overwhelmed one. An attempt, perhaps, to woo the female vote?
A chili laced with chunks of avocado won my favor, while my husband, seeing the green veggies, wouldn’t even try it. His loss.
Of one chili, number 25, the opinion seemed unanimous. This chili packed some wicked heat, so hot I motioned for Randy to refill my water glass and, after a few gulps, to “please pass the crackers.”
Afterward I would find the chili sign-up sheet upstairs in the church narthex with “Dante’s Inferno” on the list.
In the end, Kari Yule claimed the trophy while Amy Grayson took second and Randy Lemke (with help from niece Brandi) came in third.
All were winners in my eyes—especially us 120 diners.
Trinity youth also earned $803 through a free will offering for the 2016 Lutheran Church Missouri Synod National Youth Gathering in New Orleans.
What a great event. If you haven’t attended a chili cook-off or partaken of food in a church basement, do. You’ll find delicious food, good company and, typically, will assist in funding a worthy cause.
© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling