Hay River cooks battle it out in Chili Challenge

 

Myles Dolphin/NNSL photo Judge Don Mabbitt samples some chilli at the eighth annual Chili Challenge, held at the Royal Canadian Legion on April 27.

Myles Dolphin/NNSL photo
Judge Don Mabbitt samples some chilli at the eighth annual Chili Challenge, held at the Royal Canadian Legion on April 27.

Hay River taste buds were bursting on April 27 as the Royal Canadian Legion held its eighth-annual Chili Challenge.

Five lucky judges were given the task of choosing three winners. Sitting at a large table, they sampled 10 different chilis and graded them on a scale of one to five. They had eight criteria to consider: taste, visual appeal, aroma, texture of meat, consistency, blend of spices, colour and spiciness.

Participants brought in their chilis before the 4 p.m. deadline and plugged in their crock pots in another room.

Tina Gauthier’s chili came out on top in the contest.

I didn’t think I’d win,” Gauthier said of her improvised vegetarian chili. “I used vegetable burger crumble as a substitute for the meat. This was my first time entering, so I’m really surprised.”

In the eight years the event has taken place, no one has ever won more than once.

Branch president Tracy Cross-Gauthier said it’s important to limit the number of entrants to a maximum of 15. Otherwise it becomes harder for the judges to distinguish the differences between the chilis.

Judge Earl Dumas said the secret to a good chili is spiciness, while judge Don Mabbitt chose cumin as his favourite ingredient.

At one point, Mabbitt used his napkin to wipe the sweat off his forehead, suggesting he was eating a particularly spicy chili.

The event was created eight years ago after a friend of the Legion’s suggested it would be a good idea to have an annual challenge. Cross-Gauthier did some research on other competitions and adapted their rules.

Gauthier won two return tickets to Yellowknife from Buffalo Airways. Second-place winner Alana Harris-Schmitz won a gift from Hay River Home Hardware, while third-place winner Maureen Monkman won cooking supplies from NorthMart. The winners also received a ‘tummy repair kit’ from Ring’s Pharmacy.

— Myles Dolphin