10/23/11 — Whose was hot? Whose was not?

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Whose was hot? Whose was not?

By Gary Popp
Published in News on October 23, 2011 1:50 AM

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Wesley Dills, a member of the Center Stage chili cook-off team, prepares chili at the Bah-ja Humbug Grill to be sampled by the close to 500 people who attended The Really Chili Challenge. Sixteen teams competed in the event, which benefits The Community Soup Kitchen of Goldsboro.

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Angela Bunn scoops out a bowl of chili from her team's Moore's Hillbilly Chili pot. This year's The Really Chili Challenge is the best attended, and sponsorship money was $20,000 at the start of the event.

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FIRST PLACE Name: Mike Mitchell Team: Loving Spoonfuls of TA Loving

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PEOPLE'S CHOICE Name: Todd Moore Team: R.A. Jeffreys Chili name: Chernobyl

Blue sky, crisp temperatures and live music provided a welcoming setting for the fifth annual Really Chili Challenge in downtown Goldsboro Saturday.

Nearly 500 people filled the Center Street Jam parking lot to sample a variety of chili recipes that were served in miniature plastic cups from booths staffed by 16 teams, all vying for best chili honors.

The team from R.A. Jeffreys Distributing Co. took home the coveted overall best chili award with its Chernobyl Chili.

Todd Moore was one of several elated team members who took the stage to accept the handcrafted bowl that served as the top prize.

Moore said the win felt especially good, as the group has served as a sponsor and participant in the event since its inaugural year.

"We had a good chili. We always have good chili. The judges just got it right this time," Moore joked.

Moore said it was a non-alcoholic Bloody Mary mix, Taste of Florida, the group used as the chili's base that set their chili above the others.

The winning group also had a creative booth. Moore wore a full-body hazardous material suit to serve up the tasty chili.

Moore said his team is ready to defend its title next year.

"This is a great event. We like to have fun, and it feels great to win," he said.

The group also offered a special kick for the adventurous chili taster. A glass vial containing Satan's Blood, an ultra-hot chili extract, could be added to the chili if a release form was signed by the taster before indulging.

The award for best name and most creative design went to a spirited group from Center Stage Theatre.

The booth's decor included a blend of Christmas decorations and Hawaiian flair.

The thespians and members of the theater's crew and board wore wacky costumes as they served the crowd from its booth named Bah-ja Humbug Grill.

The group chef described the chili as, "A Baja, Mexican flavor with a Dudley twist."

Nathan Bradshaw said the theater group decided to participate in the cooking challenge for the first time to help advertise its upcoming production of "A Christmas Carol," of which he is the assistant director.

"It is also a great way to give back to the community as a community organization," Bradshaw said.

Dressing in a Hawaiian shirt, scarf, pajama pants and red Crocs, Bradshaw and others sang Christmas carol inspired sing-alongs to those who passed by their booth.

"We wish you a chili Christmas! We wish you a chili Christmas!" and "Come and see our 'Christmas Carol.' Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la," were some the group's a cappella offerings.

While the event encourages friendly competition and gives people a chance to socialize while trying great food, it has a serious purpose.

"The chili cook-off is our primary fundraiser of the year," said Allan Harvin, who serves as the board president for the Community Soup Kitchen of Goldsboro.

Harvin said this year's fundraiser brought in more than $20,000, which will help the organization continue providing meals for the 100 to 150 people it serves six days a week.

Harvin said the event gets bigger each year and the charitable group is able to bring in additional funds.

"A lot of people don't realize there are hungry people in Wayne County," he said.

Harvin said many of those who are aware of the local hunger issues are ready to help.

"Goldsboro is a very caring community," he said.

Runner-up for best chili went to Jeff Pitta and his team for their Doctor Chili Germ Kickin' Chili. Self Expressions Salon and Spa earned second runner-up for its Hair-Raising Chili.

The People's Choice Award went to the TA Loving team, Loving Spoonfuls, who served up their own secret recipe.