Teams add a little spice to Chili Fest

Published 9:39 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Teams from all over the region tried their hand at making chili this weekend.

Ryan Rebbe stirs the fourth-place-winning recipe at the Suffolk Chili Fest on Saturday. His team used more than a dozen spices in its recipe.

The International Chili Society-sponsored Suffolk Chili Fest, a fundraiser for the SERTOMA Club, was held Saturday at Bennett’s Creek Park. Nine teams representing nonprofit organizations and businesses duked it out to see who came out on top.

The teams pulled out all the stops, using “secret ingredients” such as unusual spices, special cuts of meat or various alcoholic beverages to give their chili the kick it needed to win over the judges.


Email newsletter signup

Eventually, the winner turned out to be Team No. 8 — Costs an Arm and a Leg by Tidewater Prosthetics. The Tidewater Prosthetics team also won the People’s Choice award, determined through ballots cast by those who attended the afternoon event.

The ICS judges chose second- through fourth-place winners, as well. They were, in order, Team No. 1 — Solid Ground; Team No. 6 — Heat Wave/Sweet Cool Down; and Team No. 2 — Wise Investments.

The Solid Ground team used more than a dozen herbs and spices to flavor its chili. As time went on, team members admitted, they became a little less scrupulous about what went into the pot.

“We started off really specific, then we started adding everything in it,” said Justin Sorensen, who revealed the secret ingredients were “love and passion.”

The Solid Ground team prepared several different test batches of chili throughout the week last week to prepare for the big day.

“I’m tired of chili already,” team member Mike McCarthy said.

Tyson Bradley of Keller Williams Realty was loathe to disclose his recipe, but he did unveil the ingredients — ground beef, hot sausage, yellow and red peppers, yellow onion, light red kidney beans, yellow corn and, most importantly, McCormick’s chili powder.

Brenda Gillihan of Bon Vivant Market, a wine shop in North Suffolk, unsurprisingly included a bottle of red wine in her recipe. Other ingredients included ground turkey, ground beef, Italian sausage, chili powder, garlic, onions, cinnamon and bouillon.

“It’s low fat,” Gillihan said of the turkey, an ingredient that nobody else revealed.

Many of the teams also offered special toppings, such as cheese, sour cream, oyster crackers and tortilla chips.

Sean Coons had two special ingredients — a bottle of Two Shilling Red from Williamsburg Winery and ground beef from Jeb’s Corner Market in Carrollton.

“That’s very important, because it’s a high cut of meat,” he said.

Tyra Boyd of Divas Catering would disclose only two ingredients — cinnamon and cocoa.

Rick Stapleton, a SERTOMA Club member, used bottom round sirloin, five kinds of chili powder and “a lot of love” in his pot.