Competitive chili cook off returns to Ponoka

Bring out the meat, beans, spices and taste buds, it's chili time.

Bring out the meat, beans, spices and taste buds, it’s chili time.

The Downtown Chili Cook Off will take place July 26 on Chipman (50th) Avenue, and organizer Mark Yaworski says the proceeds of the event are being donated to Ponoka’s Cancer Patient Support Funds. “It’s run by the FCSS,” he explained.

“It stays 100 per cent in Ponoka . . . it affects everybody and it’s really, really important we support that,” said Yaworski.

The competition will feature three official judges: Loanna Gulka, a chef at the Ponoka Community Golf Club, Denny Eddy, who is also the event’s musical entertainer, and an unannounced mystery judge.

Teams must be registered for the cook off by July 21 and application forms can be acquired at the customer service desk at Hamilton’s IGA and the Leland Hotel; the entry fee is $40.

Tables will be supplied and each team will have access to electricity. Teams are being asked to make a minimum of one gallon of chili but are encouraged to make two so there is enough to go around.

“It’s a wide open chili competition, whatever you perceive your chili to be,” explained Yaworski, who says cooks can enter anything from bison to vegetarian chili.

“We invite people to come down,” he added. Small dishes of chili will be available for sale to help increase the proceeds.

Yaworski is encouraging the community’s restaurants to get involved and help raise money for the cause; it would also allow them to show off some of their professional recipes.

The cook off also includes face painting and other fun children’s actives as well as the musical stylings of Eddy. “He’s won the country entertainer of the year award twice in British Colombia,” said Yaworski.

With his CDs for sale at the event, Eddy is giving 50 per cent of his profit back to the cancer fund.

The sponsors of the Chili Cook Off are the Town of Ponoka, Hamilton’s IGA and Mi Casa Imports, who each donated $500. “That’s going to pay for . . . all the incidentals,” said Yaworski.

Any money left over from the $1,500 will also be donated to the cancer fund.

Defending champion Lorne Vaudry is returning to defend his title and his recipe. Vaudry won the last cook off, three years ago, which was held to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Leland Hotel.