Fanning the chili flame
Sep 30, 2012 | 589 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Most have heard the old adage that best speaks to today’s topic, “Where there’s smoke ... the chili must be really, really hot!”

Perhaps we are guilty of wordsmithing a bit too liberally and maybe our tongue is planted much too firmly in our cheek, but here’s the point: It’s chili time in Cleveland, Tenn., and the gate has been slung open to a sprawling field of chili dreams.

One fact’s for certain. This is likely the first time our newspaper’s Editorial Page has dedicated such attention in back-to-back issues to subject matter surrounding beans, beef and tomato sauce. But it has happened. On Friday, we first addressed the heated competition building in the Emergency Service Chili Cookoff scheduled for next weekend, and today we explore the opportunities with the recent decision to expand the day to include an Open Division.

For those lost elsewhere in thoughts of autumn bliss, let us provide a quick update.

This first-time Emergency Service Chili Cookoff is being sponsored by the Cleveland Daily Banner’s Relay for Life team, meaning that all proceeds will go to this year’s RFL campaign and the highly respected American Cancer Society.

Teams had already begun to sign up; most notable among them are the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, the Cleveland Police Department, the Cleveland Fire Department, Bradley County Fire Rescue, Hamilton County 911 and at last report the Bradley County Emergency Medical Service was working feverishly to field a crew of cooks after the first team developed a scheduling conflict. Other emergency responders might still enter the fray (the American Cancer Society certainly hopes so because when it comes to chili, no bowl is too big) because the competition’s outreach is reaching out to neighboring counties and their municipal forces.

As emergency service teams stepped forward in hopes of winning the coveted People’s Choice and Judges Choice awards, the decision was made to create an Open Division. In other words, anybody who isn’t already an emergency service team member is welcome to bring a team of chili-cooking crusaders whose sole mission is to stir up some of Southeast Tennessee’s finest and favorite fall-season delicacy.

That’s anybody. Young or old. Short or tall. Man or woman. Baptist or Methodist. Vols Nation or Bulldog brigade. And anybody else.

It’s all about the chili.

It’s all about having some fun.

It’s all about raising money for a great cause.

It’s all about bragging rights in a world where good food is seasoned from the heart ... and with a little cayenne.

The Emergency Service Chili Cookoff fires up at 11 a.m and the flames are extinguished sometime around 3 p.m. It’s all happening in the parking lot near Kmart at Bradley Square Mall.

Those who want to pit your special recipe against that of anyone, and everyone, else only has a few more days to ponder your options. Event planners need to know as soon as possible.

Chili cookers in either the Emergency Service or the Open divisions can stake your claim on a spot in the mall parking lot next Saturday by calling the American Cancer Society at 423-855-2778 and ask for Angela Mathis, or whoever answers the phone. Just tell them you want to ignite some of your family’s secret chili recipe and in which division. They’ll be glad to hear from you.

In the meantime, encourage your family and friends to encourage their family and friends to take a dip in this growing sea of heartburn in the heartland of the South.