A taste of fame
By: Agnes Kennard, Superior Telegram
There are chili cook-offs and then there are chili cook-offs but the one not to be missed is the chili cook-off sponsored by the Men’s Garden Club. Their annual cook-off is held at the Stop A ‘Sec store in Wascott in autumn.
Earlier this year the Men’s Garden Club had prepared a Chicago Hot Dog Brunch for the public by the picnic tables outside the store. It was extremely successful. It was then Stop A ‘Sec manager, Trina Copeland, suggested that, with a distinct chill in the air, it was time to start planning for the fall chili cook-off
Six chilies were created, named and presented with much pride and placed on the testing table by the door, numbered and named, with a ballot box nearby ready for votes: ‘Chile Canard/Avec Ananas,’ ‘Martha Stewart Approved,’ ‘Way on the Mild Side not Wild Side,’ ‘Voted No. One in Minong Cook-off,’ ‘Blessed Chili, Full of Grace’ and ‘Boomer’s Bob’s Famous Firehouse Chili.’
The morning kicked off with an in-depth interview by a faux reporter, Ed Frerk, from the ‘biggie’ St. Paul, Minnesota newspaper, which set the tone for the day’s event. Many laughs, and teasing followed with George Kresch, President of the Men’s Garden Club poking fun at himself, “Seventy-three years old and I finally made the big time.”
There were many observations during the event.
“I’m debating between number two and number six,” Mike Moss volunteered, as he headed back for seconds. Other comments were equally astute:
“They are all good, each with distinct different flavors.”
“Man, this is good chili.”
“I can smell the power,” one gentleman said, as he tasted a sample.
“It has to make you sweat,” one taster said.
The chilies were as varied in ingredients as the comments. Some were made with hamburger, others with steak, some with venison and one original one with wild duck. Something for every palate.
The age of the people who stopped by were equally as varied; old-timers down to a 9-year-old who was taking this cook-off seriously judging by the intense look on his young face. One 15-year-old was seen drinking milk between tastes of chilies.
“Just cleansing the pallet between bowls,” he explained as he swished milk around his mouth.
The chefs -- Ben Motis, Buzz Kennard, Trina Copeland, Dennis Mertzig, Jim Faunce-Zimmerman and Bob Wicklund --were anxiously awaiting the vote total, hoping to get the top vote. At the end it too close to call. Everyone agreed they all were winners, laughing and patting each other on the back.
Kresch said it was the best cook-off ever, pointing out that the ‘judges’ who tasted the various chilies were unusually professional and most discriminating in their choices, testing each chili and savoring every spoonful.
While the Men’s Garden Club was raising the bar with this year’s chili cook-off they were also raising donations for the area’s food shelf. A grand total of $57.32 was donated. Next year’s goal is to go over $60, Kresch said with optimism, his face breaking into his usual infectious wide grin.