Hot enough for you? United Way Chili Cook-Off winners share secrets
Hot, spicy, peppery, tomatoey - and a few "uff dahs" thrown in for good measure.
That's a taste of what those attending the United Way of Pope and Douglas County's 13th annual Chili Cook-Off experienced Tuesday.
A total of 38 chili cook-off contestants competed for prestigious awards at the event.
Inspired by the theme, "Ole and Lena's Chili," many of the soup servers went all out with costumes and booths proudly reflecting their Norwegian heritage.
More than 730 people attended, which made the fundraiser a huge success, according to organizers.
More than 80 volunteers helped with the event. Businesses were another key ingredient, contributing more than 220 silent auction items and helping with promotion.
Trying to pry the recipes out of the chefs who whipped up this year's award-winners was a challenge but a few shared their secrets. Here they are:
Winner - Open Division
Spiced with banana peppers, cayenne pepper - and a "special ingredient."
Winner - Commercial
Owner Kevin Cunningham described the restaurant's winning entry as "Proprietary Road House Chili with a few high-octane additives."
"Sveet and Sassy Chili"
People's Choice Award
Matt and Harlan used most of the traditional ingredients for making chili. However, they say their secret is Western dressing and honey mustard.
Most Unusual Winner
The chili was created by Knute Nelson's chef at Nelson Gables, Tom Knutson.
It was a beanless chili and featured prime rib as the meat. Lots of vegetables and spices were in the recipe, including some unusual ingredients like rutabagas.
To go along with the dish, Knutson also made homemade tortilla chips to dip in the chili.
The name of the entry, Bucket Chili, fit with Knute Nelson's booth theme, "Ice Fishing with Ole and Lena."
Alexandria Fire Department
Hottest Chili Winner
The cooks who came up with the firefighters' fire-breathing chili used 10 different kinds of chili peppers, including habanero, cherry habanero, jalapeno, serrano, red cayenne, bell, Thai pepper, sweet banana pepper, poblano pepper and a new one to hit the market - "ghost pepper," which is said to be four times hotter than the hottest habanero pepper.
One person who tasted the firefighter's chili said the full impact didn't hit him until he had walked a hundred feet away and then it burned to the core.