10/06/08 — There's still time to make your chili ...

View Archive

There's still time to make your chili ...

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on October 6, 2008 1:46 PM

Submitted photo

Downtown Deli owner Brenda Thornton and cooking team member Donald Ray Raford prepare their entry in the 2007 Really Chili Challenge to raise funds for the Community Soup Kitchen

Local chili chefs only have a little more than a week to register to prove that their cuisine reigns supreme.

The deadline for the second annual Really Chili Challenge is Oct. 15.

The event, which benefits the local Community Soup Kitchen, will be held downtown on Oct. 25.

Ann Hunter, the soup kitchen board's Chili Challenge publicity chairman, says the organization needs to raise a minimum of $80,000 to operate for one year.

But the money the organization needs could increase this year. Because of the economy, increasing numbers of guests are coming for lunch, which lasts for one hour at the Soup Kitchen each Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until noon.

In the early spring, the Soup Kitchen had about 75 lunch guests each day. That number increased through the summer to sometimes 100 and other times to as many as 150.

Now, Mrs. Hunter said, that number has leveled out to a constant 130 or so.

But Soup Kitchen volunteers don't know what to expect as the economy worsens and the weather gets colder.

"The unemployed, elderly and disabled are particularly vulnerable and dependent on the Community Soup Kitchen services," Mrs. Hunter said.

The Chili Challenge is the organization's only fundraiser.

Mrs. Hunter said the board considered the first Chili Challenge, which was held last year, a success. That event drew about a dozen cooking teams.

And already this year, 15 teams have signed up to participate in the cook-off.

"This is an inexpensive way to have a really good time and do some good," Mrs. Hunter said.

Wayne Memorial Hospital's hospital team already had a cook-off of its own -- to determine who would be on the Chili Challenge team.

Several teams from last year are returning, including Brenda Thornton's team from the Downtown Deli.

This year's Chili Challenge is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 25 in the Center Street Jam parking lot. Events begin at 11 a.m., with the 2 Hot 2 Trot 5K Run for serious runners, followed by a one-mile Fun Run for the 5K runners' family members and anybody else who doesn't want to have to run so far.

The East Carolina Road Racing organization is helping plan the races, and the 5K race is sanctioned for those serious runners who want to acquire points by participating.

"We want the runners to stay for the fun," Mrs. Hunter said. "And we want the runners to bring their family members so they can be a part of the one-mile Fun Run."

Taste tests begin at 11 a.m. while the judges are choosing the cook-off winners.

By that time, the chili chefs will have already been at work for several hours.

Cooking teams will have at least two members, although the teams last year typically had four or five. A $50 entry fee for each team includes one free Really Chili Challenge apron for the team. Additional aprons, T-shirts and hats will also be available for purchase.

Each team will be assigned a 12-by-12-foot space and provided with a table, sampling cups and utensils. All other equipment like cooking stoves, booths or tents will be the responsibility of the team. And electricity will not be available.

Judges will award first-, second- and third-place prizes for the best tasting chili. And for those who just want to have fun, the judges will pick the Best Chili Name and Best Decorated Booth.

Judges will announce the cook-off winners at noon.

To obtain an entry form for your cooking team or for the 5K Road Run, you can go online at www.communitysoupkitchen.org or visit the HealtHabit and the Flying Shamrock. You can also contact Soup Kitchen Board Chairman Andrea Heekin at 1-252-943-1010.

The Really Chili Challenge will be held rain or shine.