Chili Cookoff now wide open
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Sep 27, 2012 | 2384 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An upcoming Emergency Service Chili Cookoff scheduled Oct. 6 at Bradley Square Mall just got a little bigger.

More pots. More cooks. And a whole new division.

The Emergency Service Division remains intact so first responders will still be stirring up some fireball recipes in a head-to-head competition aimed at earning bragging rights for the group of firefighters, ambulance technicians, police officers, 911 professionals or other chili-concocting crews from around the Southeast Tennessee region who believe they do it best.

The Emergency Service Division grouping will still include judging for People’s Choice and Judges Choice awards. The judges will be an expert panel of chili enthusiasts whose idea of a good time is a bowl, some seasoned meat, lots of beans and plenty of heat. Judges for the People’s Choice award will be those who purchase a ballot for $5. Not only do they get to name their favorite, but they get to taste test the whole field of chili dreams.

But now chili diehards representing a whole new category are riding into town and are heading for the Kmart parking lot where the Chili Cookoff will be ... cooking off. It’s the Open Division and it will include anybody who is not affiliated with emergency services, according to Angela Mathis, senior community representative for the American Cancer Society.

Proceeds from the Chili Cookoff, in both the Emergency Services and Open divisions, will go to the ACS Relay for Life. The coming cookoff, which is only a week away, is being hosted by the Cleveland Daily Banner.

“Anyone who would like to enter the Open Division of the cookoff may enter, and we certainly hope they will,” Mathis said. “These chili contestants will be pitted against each other. Over in the Emergency Services Division, those teams will compete against each other.”

Like their chili recipes, the competition is already heating up. Mathis reported a couple of teams have already committed to the new Open Division, and more are expected. With the field wide open to any team, it’s a pretty good bet.

At least four crews have signed up for the Emergency Services Division. They include the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, Cleveland Police Department, Cleveland Fire Department and Hamilton County 911. The Bradley County Emergency Medical Services operation was expected to field at least one team, judging from prior comments from Stan Clark, public information officer. However, some scheduling conflicts have arisen with Clark’s team since last week. At last reports the PIO was working to recruit another set of EMS cooks.

But a full week remains before the fiery, hot-lipped competition.

In an earlier interview, Clark told the Cleveland Daily Banner, “Typically, we (BCEMS) have a chili cookoff and I don’t get to participate. But this way, I can put a team together and issue a challenge to members of my department, as well as any [other] regional team to try to outscore my recipe.”

Recipe? Chili makers use recipes? Most kitchen cooks just throw in some ingredients, add the heat and voila, it’s chili.

Not so, claim some veteran emergency service professionals. To them, making the perfect pot of chili is a science, one that comes from the heart.

On this autumn Saturday in the heartland of heartburn, it’s all about the chili. But it’s also about some entertaining music.

While the pots are being stirred, the cooks are snarling at wannabe rivals and the paying guests are taste testing to their tongues’ delight, two talented groups will be providing some live entertainment. They include “No One Special” and “1 Shot Down.”

Tickets for taste testing and judging can be purchased at the Cleveland Daily Banner offices at 1505 25th St., at the Chattanooga American Cancer Society office on Shallowford Road, or just by calling 423-855-2778.

The Chili Cookoff kicks off at 11 a.m. and will shut down its pots and pans at 3 p.m.

It’s all about the chili. It’s all about having some fun. And it’s all about a common cause — preventing, and eventually, defeating cancer.

An ACS Note: Last week, the American Cancer Society announced that between 2004 and 2008, total cancer incidence rates declined by 0.6 percent per year in men and were stable in women. For the same period, cancer death rates decreased by 1.8 percent per year in men and by 1.6 percent in women. The reduction in overall cancer death rates since 1990 in men and 1991 in women translates to the avoidance of more than 1 million total deaths nationally from cancer during that period.