10/17/10 — Talking chili

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Talking chili

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on October 17, 2010 1:50 AM

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Allen Howell tastes the award-winning chili he has created for the third annual chili cook-off to benefit the Community Soup Kitchen. Howell along with his team "Spicey Ricey" will take part in the event, which is to be held this Saturday at Cornerstone Commons in downtown Goldsboro.

Allen Howell could tell you the secret ingredient in his homemade chili, but then he would have to kill you.

But you can taste his culinary creation without threat to life and limb at the third annual chili cookoff Oct. 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is a major fundraiser for the Community Soup Kitchen.

Howell makes his chili in a cast iron pot using his own secret recipe. He raises his own peppers to use in the chili and also the tomatoes that he uses to make the base.

He has two teams in the cookoff, Spicey Ricey I and II. One team will prepare his secret recipe, while the other will use a recipe he got from a Mexican woman he knows who is a good cook.

Howell has been making chili for years.

"People call me and ask for my chili," he said.

Howell's chili took first-place honors at last year's cookoff.

Not only is his chili something to look for, but so are the decorations he uses for his booth. He puts out some pumpkins and flowers, and his sister takes him some live pepper plants with the peppers hanging on them.

"Just watch out," he warned his competitors. "Look out for me. I'm liable to win. You never know. My main objective is to go out there and win."

But most of all, Howell is out to have a good time for a good cause.

Spicey Ricey I and II are just two of the 16 teams entered in the chili competition. Competition is fierce each year, said Scottie Weathers, who is in charge of the teams.

"It's a great competition," she said. "Most do it just to have fun. If you win, that makes it even better."

And, she added, teams don't taunt each other too much.

But they do compete hard for the title of best chili and best decorated booth.

Like Little Saloon, which last year, dressed up in can-can outfits and cowboy garb. And the Goldsboro Battleground Association team this year whose members are doing their cooking in old-time clothing.

"You'll see all kinds of different set-ups out there," Ms. Weathers said. "Decorating is a big part of it. And they are fierce at decorating their booths."

That's something The Loving Spoonful is planning to go all out on this year. They have vowed not to divulge the surprise until the day of the cookoff.

The TALoving Co. team hasn't changed its recipe since the competition began three years ago.

"The first year, we were told by several people that we had the best chili out there, but the problem was that we burned it a little bit that year," team captain Mike Mitchell said.

"Last yea,r we won the People's Choice award. The judges didn't necessarily like it, but the people who came out to taste it did. Stop by and give us a try this year; you won't be disappointed."

Loving Spoonful's cooks are Mitchell, Scott Wynne, David Philyaw, Shawn McDowell and Mike Richter.

A new team in the 2010 contest is Tres Hombres Calientes. Its members include Clarke Hill, Dan Wroblewski and Ryan Hanchett and it's the News-Argus' team.

The dish is a combination of Hill and Wroblewski's chili recipes.

"It has a very secret ingredient that no one would think goes into chili," Hill said.

He said it takes time to make this recipe.

"There's a lot of preparation ahead of time for our chili. It's not just throw some hamburger in a pot, cook it with tomato juice and add beans to it. It's more complicated than that."

How does he think the first-time team will do?

"I don't know why they are going to show up," he said of the competition. "We are really confident. We're competitive and hope to win, but the main thing is to raise money for the Soup Kitchen."

And that will especially help the Soup Kitchen this year, as it is now serving about 110 people daily, Ms. Weathers said.

"The number of people the Soup Kitchen serves has increased tremendously over the past two years," she said. "We are having more families come in, too. With the economy the way it is now, it's a really needed community service."

Other teams competing this year are The Squirrel Hut, Skilli Chili, Doctor Chili, Lula's Chili, Moore's Hillbilly Chili since 2010, Cannonball Chili Cookers, Cornelia Grundmeier, R.A. Jeffrey's, Team WCC, Zaxby's Really Chicken Chili, Too Kind Chili Trio and Wayne Memorial Hospital.

There is still to enter your team into the chili cookoff. Just go to the website at www.communitysoupkitchen.com, fill out the form and take it to the Soup Kitchen.

For those who want to go taste the different kinds of chili, tickets are $5, with children under 6 free.

The event will be held downtown on Center Street where the Center Street Jam takes place.