What makes up a great chili? Beans, peppers, onions, spices, veggies, beef, or even venison? Sure, we all have our likes and dislikes in this perfect fall and winter dish, but at the Sixth Annual Stamford Chili Cook-off, over 300 hungry visitors had the final say.
Held on Sunday, 11/3, the Stamford Chili Cook-off had bigger digs, usually held at the Stamford Unitarian Universalist Church. This year it was part of the Touch a Truck event at Stamford Museum & Nature Center. Organized by Joe Gonzalez, the contest was an amazing hit, bringing people in from all over to vote in their favorite chili. By the end of the day, there were hundreds of votes and lots of money raised for the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County. We’re talking about just around $1,700 raised as well as countless bags of groceries to help feed the hungry.
The competition was definitely heated (except for Joey Kuntz’s dessert chili which was served up cold), but all the contestants went around, talked with each other, and tasted each other’s chili. This was a great event and there was some awesome chili. We look forward to the 7th Annual Chili Cook-off next year…and so should you!
Here are the winners:
1st: The Benzaken’s “Three Bird Chili” – (Alain and daughters Casey and Jordan)
2nd: Wakeman Town Farm –Chipotle Veggie Chili with Cornbread
3rd: Rama Kumanduri and Cristina Romero –”Chili con Pasion”
And here is the description of each chili:
A) The Benzakens – “Three Bird Chili” – Inspired by the Thanksgiving season, former champs Casey and Jordan have created a special chili that includes smoked duck, chicken and turkey. A spicy blend that includes chipotle peppers and white beans, this chili will make your senses soar high, even though none of these birds can actually fly. Well…maybe the ducks. In any case, stop by our table and enjoy our unique chili!
B) Joe Kuntz – From the “transplanted Texan gone crazy”, we have a Vegetarian dessert chili! No meat, some sweet, and some heat! Served on corn tortillas.
C) Brian Cronin – “24 Hour East River Couch Chili” – The East River has often been referred to by the NYC Police and Fire Rescue teams as “Deep, Dark and Dangerous”. I just added Delicious to that identity, and you now have my chili! Simmered for a minimum of 24 hours with no less than 16 ingredients. Fresh white corn and a secret smoke component are the standouts in this Deep, Dark, Dangerous and Delicious three meat batch. Brother Sean has concocted his rich cornbread to accompany this tummy bath to soothe any heat that may linger too long.
D) Wakeman Town Farm – “Chipotle Veggie Chili With Cornbread” – This chili is made from organic vegetables harvested from Wakeman Town Farm in Westport as well as Sport Hill Farm in Easton and several other Fairfield County farms. Made with an all vegetable stock, homemade smoked jalapeno, organic veggies and topped with a cilantro cornbread. It will have a mildly smoky flavor with a slight spicy kick. Our recipe will be available to take home!
E) Robin Skidmore – “Mighty Bruin Tex-Mex” – Take a walk on the “Wild Side” with this rare chance to try wild bear – a rich red meat much like beef, all flavor, no gamey edge. You’ll be amazed how delicious it is! But while bear is the heart of this chili, the Mexican spices are its soul. Hot peppers are paired off with fresh cilantro and Mexican oregano for a flavorful slow burn that will have your taste buds begging for another spoonful!
F) Bill and Jean Marie Warncke – “Buffalo Bill’s Southwest GRILLED Chili” – This year we have a new take on a chili cook-off classic! Buffalo Bill has taken his formula of savory meats, peppers and spices to the next level by incorporating grilled ingredients sure to win over even the toughest chili judge! A little bit of smoky-ness, a little bit of heat and a lot of flavor is packed into every bite!
G) Chef Hunter Zampa (competed on Rachael vs. Guy) – Venison Chili with a unique twist of Asian inspired flavors sure to warm your heart and soul!
H) Shawn Carlson – Do you feel like a Sam Adams? Do you love chili? Who does not love bacon? Well come one, come all, and enjoy…”Sam Adams Cowboy Beef and Bacon Lager Chili”! Beans, beef, peppers, spices, Sam Adams, and BACON!!!!! Enjoy, and vote for the Cowboy!
I) It’s Getting Chili In Here! – HEAT and SWEET! Long, slow simmered meat, spices, tomatoes and 3 chile base with a secret ingredient for a flavorful finale!
J) Stamford HS Marching Band – “Rancher’s Spicy Pinto Bean and Chicken Chili” – Pinto beans, chicken, onion, garlic, tomatoes, green peppers, chili powder, salt, sugar, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.
K) Bold for the Gold – Dan Tewes and his daughter Sarah make a chili that is bold and spicy, rich in beef with fresh veggies. The chili up front heat is not overpowering, which allows you to enjoy all the flavors. However, the heat builds as you eat more and is best consumed with a cold beverage of choice!
L) Rama Kumanduri and Cristina Romero– “Chile con Pasión” – A unique balance of fresh and dry Chiles (roasted and smoked, hot and flavorful) combined with peppers and spices from around the world to pleasure your palate!