Taste still means everything. Texture will rule the day. And teams surely will be bringing the heat. That’s the way it should be.
Whether the chili is mild, medium, hot or “Oh Lordy, that’s good!” ... it will be a defining moment in the cooking skills of some emergency service operations whose professional personnel are trained in more than just saving lives. They’ll still be saving folks, but in a chili sort of way.
We speak of the coming first-time Emergency Service Chili Cookoff scheduled for Bradley Square Mall in the parking lot next to Kmart on Oct. 6 — a chili kind of Saturday — from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Teams are being invited from around the region — not just Cleveland and Bradley County — and the cause will be more than just lighting up tongues and tastebuds.
Proceeds will go to Relay for Life of Cleveland and this newspaper’s cancer-fighting team is the primary sponsor.
Who gets to play?
It’s any emergency service crew within the immediate region. Invitations also are going out to Bradley County first responders — firefighters, law enforcement offices, 911 professionals, rescue operations and others. Another is the Bradley County Emergency Medical Service, a seasoned team of lifesavers who normally sponsor their own chili cookoff on behalf of other emergency teams. But the EMS emergency techs and paramedics never get to participate.
Word on the chili streets is one EMS team planning to compete has developed some conflicts. All are hoping another EMS crew will rise to the occasion.
But several crews have committed — the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, the Cleveland Police Department, the Cleveland Fire Department, Bradley County Fire Rescue and Hamilton County 911, just to name a few. Other locals are hoped, but emergency crews might yet be dispatched from some of Bradley County’s neighbors like Hamilton, McMinn, Polk, Meigs, Rhea and others. All have excellent emergency service operations and it’s a sure-fire bet that most — if not all — can ladle up a pot of People’s Choice chili.
For those interested, here’s the scoop.
Emergency service teams who believe their chili is the best in the land need only contact the American Cancer Society office on Shallowford Road at 423-855-2778 to reserve a spot among the list of chili hopefuls. References are not required. Degree of heat is not a concern. Just sign up and bring all your fixin’s with you.
A $5 ticket will assure observers of taste testing each concoction and they’ll be given a ballot on which to vote. This tally will name the People’s Choice award winner. A pre-selected panel of chili experts will determine the Judges Choice award. All the cooking, most of the stirring and a bunch of the tasting will be done to the tune of live entertainment provided by “No One Special” and “One Shot Down.”
Tasters’ tickets can be purchased at the Cleveland Daily Banner office, the American Cancer Society office or by calling the ACS number. Angela Mathis, ACS senior community representative who once worked at the Cleveland Daily Banner, invites any and all area emergency services to sign up.
Oh, and official Chili Cookoff T-shirts are available for purchase at the Banner.
It’s great chili. It’s a great cause. And it’ll be a great Saturday.
Spread the word and sign up now, you chili stirrin’ first-responding heroes! Show us what’ya got!
(Editor’s Note: Stop the presses! We’re being told the Chili Cookoff has been expanded to include an “Open” division, as reported on the front page of this newspaper in Thursday’s edition. You’ll read more about it Sunday on our Editorial Page.)