Rob Peters pours a serving at the ninth annual chili cook off at Gasoline Alley. The event raises money for the Red Deer Hospice Society. (Sean McIntosh/Red Deer Advocate)

Annual Chili Cook Off raises money for Red Deer Hospice Society

The secret to making a great chili is preparing the sauce first, says a contestant at the ninth annual Gasoline Alley Harley Davidson Chili Cook Off.

Todd Swenson, a salesman at the motorcycle dealership, made one of eight competing chilis at Saturday’s event, which raised money for the Red Deer Hospice Society.

“Cooking’s been my passion for years – it’s probably what I should have done for a living,” Swenson said as he passed a cup of chili to a cook off attendee.

“I made my first gold-medal chili in 1994 and again in ‘95. More recently, I’ve won here in Gasoline Alley twice, once in Kelowna, once in Edson – all over the place.”

Swenson displayed his recipe on his table for any visitor to see – his “COVID Killer” chili featured a blend of 39 ingredients.

“The key to any chili is to make the sauce first, because if you can taste the sauce, and it’s so good that you just want to drink it, imagine what it’s going to taste like with the fried meat, the peppers and the kidney beans. It brings it all together,” said Swenson.

“I don’t make the chili too hot, because you’re going to lose votes that way. (It) will numb your mouth and you won’t taste anything else.”

While Swenson didn’t have time to taste the other competitors’ chili Saturday, he said everyone there had something special to offer.

“I love how people are getting involved and cooking, because I’m such a cooking fan. This brings people out, which we haven’t had in a long time, so this is really exciting. Being able to compete is great.”

Dave Rienks, with the Red Deer Hospice Society, said events like this are important for the facility, which provides palliative care for those facing the end of life in central Alberta.

“The hospice is nonprofit – it’s run by donations, fundraising. We have 16 beds now and we’re usually at full capacity,” said Rienks.

It costs $580 a day to take care of a patient. Like many nonprofit groups, the facility has been impacted by COVID-19.

“We rely heavily on donations, and this year … a lot of things that we’ve normally done (to raise money) have been cancelled or just tweaked. It’s nice to see so many people here (at the Chili Cook Off),” said Rienks.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Rob Peters pours a serving at the ninth annual chili cook off at Gasoline Alley. The event raises money for the Red Deer Hospice Society. (Sean McIntosh/Red Deer Advocate)

Just Posted

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and Roland Gaviola, Iglesia ni Cristo Church of Christ district minister in the Calgary region, stand in front of the 300-plus boxes of donated food at the Red Deer Food Bank Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Red Deer Food Bank receives big donation from local church

More than 300 boxes of food were donated Saturday

Jason Aquino has been adding to his front lawn Halloween display for the past five years. “I wanted to do it big this year, because even in the pandemic, we can still enjoy Halloween,” says the Red Deer father.
Halloween spookiness rises to new level

Rare astronomical occurrence caps off a strange holiday

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

Advocate file photo
Man awaiting murder trial facing two new trials for breaching release conditions

Quentin Strawberry going to trial in March in connection with 2019 murder

Ecole La Prairie students and teachers dressed up in Halloween costumes and paraded by Barrett Kiwanis Place, while waving at the building’s residents in Red Deer on Friday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Ecole La Prairie students parade in Halloween costumes for Red Deer seniors

Dozens of Red Deer students put on their Halloween costumes to spread… Continue reading

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

A costumed trick or treater turns after being given candy during Halloween celebrations in Toronto, on Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Families across the country have assembled their costumes and stockpiled their candy to celebrate a Halloween that is -- hopefully -- unlike any other. Public health restrictions to protect against COVID-19 vary depending on the region, but most officials have given trick-or-treating the go-ahead.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Families prepare for pandemic-era Halloween with public health restrictions in place

TORONTO — Canadians may be putting the final touches on their costumes… Continue reading

Indigenous fishermen adjust lines on their boat in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan
N.S. Mi’kmaq chiefs demand stop of alleged federal plans to seize lobster traps

HALIFAX — The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs is alleging the… Continue reading

Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs speaks in Ottawa on Thursday, December 7, 2017. Dumas says he's concerned about the growing number of COVID-19 cases First Nation communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
The family of Allan Landrie, shown in a family handout photo, is disappointed the Saskatchewan Coroners Service isn’t considering an inquest into the 72-year-old's hospital death. Landrie's death in September 2019 was ruled a suicide. More than three days had passed before his body was discovered locked in a hospital bathroom in Saskatoon. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
‘He was so sick,’ says daughter of Saskatoon man who committed suicide in hospital

Allan Landrie’s body was discovered three days after his death

Supporters listen as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Obama: Trump failed to take pandemic, presidency seriously

FLINT, Mich. — Calling Joe Biden his “brother,” Barack Obama on Saturday… Continue reading

Imagining the origins of Halloween

Long ago and far away, a small assemblage of English people gathered… Continue reading

Red Deer College president Peter Nunoda. (Photo by contributed)
Peter Nunoda: Winter term will be busier on RDC campus

In my column last month, I shared details about Red Deer College’s… Continue reading

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie "The Name of the Rose" at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

He died peacefully in his sleep overnight in the Bahamas

Most Read