It takes strong coffee, 12 kinds of fresh and dried pepper and lots of time for the flavours to merge, says the winner of Thursday’s Chili Cook Off in Red Deer.
Karla Folstad and her crew from the main floor of Parkland Fuel, creators of Chili Chili Bang Bang, beat 15 fellow cook-off competitors — including co-workers from the second floor of their office — with their mystical mix of flavour and fire.
All chilis are good chilis, said Paul O’Neil, one of four judges looking for the best chili, the most unique ingredients and the best theme.
The best chilis are the ones that give you a few seconds to savour the flavour before the hot peppers ignite and obliterate your taste buds, said O’Neil, host of Big105’s Morning Buzz.
“My taste buds are gone,” he said after the judges had chosen and announced the winners. The cook-off was co-sponsored by London Drugs and Big 105 and 106.7 The Drive.
Because of the visual aspects of the contest, he and three of his co-workers were required to sample the offerings at each of the 16 booths entered this year — up by one from last year’s event.
They tackled their chore with relish, making sure to include the pineapple bits, sour cream and other side dishes offered to help cool their palates between fires.
And, like everyone else gathered to share in the offerings, they had to sign a waiver before they were allowed to test the Servus Credit Union crew’s Hell’s Bells Chili — hotted to the max with The Source, a commercial pepper sauce that requires a waiver before purchasers are allowed to break the seal on the box.
Contest rules are bendable, said O’Neil. If people were willing to sign a waiver to chow down on the chili, that was fair game, he said.
But even The Source, the maple syrup and the Jack Daniels whiskey weren’t enough to get Ryan Blair and his crew from the IT department at Servus into the winners’ circle.
The Alberta Party Crew sweetened their chili with chocolate, hoping to serve up plates of politics that people can actually stomach .
The Kidney Foundation team was one of the few to include beans, considered inappropriate by chili purists.
Parkland’s Folstad explained beans were added by cowboys from the southwest, who had altered their chili recipes to include ingredients that were plentiful and easy to carry in the saddlebags.
There was just no way that the Kidney Foundation could even think about making chili without kidney beans, said crew chief Kai Smyth, fund co-ordinator for the Red Deer office.
But it was the Cities Gastro Pub and Restaurant Twenty Seven crew, headed by co-owner and chef Dwayne Gauthier, that earned the title of having the most unique ingredients.
Gauthier used an outside round cut of bison, diced rather than ground, and liberally spiced with chipotle pepper.
Near his booth, the Flintstone Family from Big Bend Market were awarded with the best theme for their brontosaurus chili, made from bison, venison, elk and beef by a crew playing the roles of Fred, Barney, Wilma, Betty (who has her own little Bambam on the way) and Pebbles.
Even though they didn’t earn a prize, the Kidney Foundation was the big winner, netting $1,799.62 during the event. That’s an impressive increase over last year’s chili cook-off, which earned $1,146.75.
The Kidney Foundation was the charity chosen to receive money raised furing the cook-off.
Including the Chili Cook Off, off-site events had raised at least $16,000 for local charities midway through the second day of the Westerner Days fair.
Breakfasts on Wednesday morning attracted 5,680 people to Bower Place Shopping Centre, 400 to London Drugs and 676 to Mooney Insurance. The Bower Place breakfast raised $7,600 for the Red Deer Food Bank, London Drugs raised $1,280 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
London Drugs breakfasts, which raise money for different charities, run from 8 to 11 a.m. today and Saturday and 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday.
Bysellbyphoto.com will host a show and shine at the Parkland Mall on Saturday, with proceeds going to STARS. Registration for the show opens at 8:30 a.m. with trophy presentations at 3 p.m.