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21st Annual Downtown Chili Cook Off

On July 24th the 21st Annual Downtown Chili Cook Off organized by the City Centre Development Agency (CCDA) became home for some good eating. The serious business of the day was chili. Never been to a cook off? Well – all preparation of chili must be done on site and from scratch. “Scratch” means starting with raw meat and using regular spices. There are lots of chili styles but two of the standards are “Texas” and “Open”.

The Canada Cup team entered with an “Open” style recipe. This chili is a more ‘normal’, everyday chili, and can include beans and vegetables. This style appeals to a broad range of tasters and the repeat requests for more chili emptied the pots quick.

It was a hectic schedule starting the day before because Alicia Hannah, Head Chef and Director of Community Events did the shopping, all the prep work – coolers, ice, water, burners, propane, spoons, tables… a long list of details happened on Friday. In a word – WOW! Alicia’s recipe preparation took place over several months as the blend of spices, veggies and everything was prepared, sampled and tweaked since the decision was made to go into the chili cook-off in March.

The schedule looks like this:

Friday

  • Groceries
  • Kitchen prep
  • Gather equipment (spatulas, cooking spoons, sampling spoons, napkins,garbage bags…)
  • Gather coolers, burners, propane
  • Don’t forget all the driving around (it’s a lot of work getting ready)

Saturday

  • 7:00 am – Set-up on 3rd street and light the burners and make a Tim Horton’s run
  • 7:30 am – Cooks start beans simmering
  • 8:30 am – Add in some spices and veggies
  • 9:00 am – Enjoy the somewhat frantic beginning of preparations.
  • 10:00 am – Pots are simmering with incredible aromas and its time to start cooking 15 lbs of hamburger
  • 10:30 am – Savour the smell…
  • 11:00 am – Feel the anticipation build (people are gathering and want to buy a bowl)…
  • 11:30 am – Couple wants Canada Cup tickets and chili but could only sell tickets (they’ll be back for chili)
  • 12:00 Noon – The moment that MANY have been waiting for… chili fans have their kit, get in line, and taste as many chilis as possible (53 teams are cooking); then cast a ballot for the crowd favorite
  • 12:30 pm – Chili Cooks hand in your samples for judging at the Core Association office – each chili team delivers a bowl of their very best to the Judges’ office.
  • 1:00 pm – Line-ups and BUSY – really busy!
  • 1:30 pm – Repeat tasters coming back for seconds
  • 2:00 pm – All that chili and it’s gone!!! It left the pots one tablespoon at a time to a whole lot of satisfied samplers!
  • 2:01 pm – Visit, hand out brochures, listen to music, visit… our chilis gone…
  • 3:00 pm – Takedown… everything is dispersed and cleaned up
  • 3:30 pm – Chili Awards begin – the moment of truth after all that effort – the Judging committee will announce the winners in the Monarch Theatre on 2nd Street

A great big round of applause to the team – Alicia Hannah, Laverne Foran, Fran Jensen, Irene Errington, Devonna Sannachan, Alison Christie, Judy Hill, Susan Woycechowsky, Sandy Soltis, Rita Elder, Donna Scharf and Bob Hannah.

In two words a heartfelt “Community Event” – THANK YOU everyone!

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