The 15th annual Fourth of July Chili Cookoff at the Port of Brookings Harbor boardwalk was full of surprises as a newcomer won the Judge’s Choice, the People’s Choice didn’t agree with the judges, and the longtime reigning champion didn’t even place.
“This year it was topsy-turvy and all backward,” said contest organizer Pat Silveria, owner of Slugs ’N’ Stones ’N’ Ice Cream Cones, which hosted the event, a fundraiser for Oasis Shelter Home.
Judges Kevin Bane of KURY Radio, Bonnie Northrup of Umpqua Bank, and Mac Mazzettia, a former chili champ, taste-tested the eight entries and chose the chili of Marlene Blom, entry 22, who entered the contest at the last minute, for first place. Winning the People’s Choice was Mike Whitman, entry 75.
Whitman called his chili “Humble Pie,” because he said, while serving chili, that reining champion Dori Blodgett, entry 10, was going to be tasting humble pie after the contest.
Although it was all in good humor, Whitman was right. Blodgett, who had seven of her nine ribbons won in the past seven years displayed on her table, did not place.
Second place in the Judge’s Choice went to Cindy Golding, entry 42, and third place was awarded to Shannon Warner, entry 55.
Both Blom and Warner, inexperienced at how much chili to make, ran out of their offering within 45 minutes of the two-hour event and were gone before they could be interviewed. Many people were unable to try their chili for the People’s Choice Award; however, people were overheard recommending Warner’s chili for People’s Choice.
Blom told the Pilot on Tuesday that she began making the chili recipe 30 years ago.
“I started making it to get the kids interested in eating chili,” Blom said. The kids call it “Mama’s Chili.” And because they love it so much, Blom’s daughter, Meiko Michelle O’Campo, bugged her to enter the cookoff. O’Campo finally asked her mother to make the chili and she would enter it and serve it. It was also agreed that any winnings would be donated back to Oasis.
Blom said her chili is mainly lean ground beef, tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, beans cooked in chicken broth, potatoes, corn and seasoning.
After the cookoff on Sunday, Whitman wondered if he could have won the Judge’s Choice if the judges had been served later and had gotten a tastier sample.
Whitman’s chili contained several different kinds of steaks and sausages along with beans and tomatoes.
See Cookoff, Page 3BGolding’s award-winning chili, which she called Sandia Chili from New Mexico, consisted mainly of ground beef, pork, green chili and beer. She arrived at her recipe by experimenting to suit her husband John’s tastes. The beer she used came from the brewery where her daughter, Morgan, is working.
The only other chili that contained beer was served by Blodgett, who for the first year did not get her recipe from a book in the Chetco Community Public Library, where she is children’s librarian.
“I wanted something with chocolate, so I did an Internet search and found (a recipe) with beer,” Blodgett said.
Others who competed were Jennifer White, serving “Jeneration Chili” – a recipe that has been passed down from her grandmother; Jim Burden, who served a cinnamony Cincinnati chili; and Michael Kammeier, a Harbor Fire Department volunteer, who offered his firehouse chili.
Providing musical entertainment during the event was The Boondock Band.
After the cookoff, John Alexander, Del Norte County district attorney and former cookoff champion, shared statistics about domestic violence, which is the reason for the existence of Oasis Shelter Home. The awards were then presented, which included cash, a ribbon and a gift bag furnished by the Port of Brookings Harbor.
In closing, it was announced that the event raised $1,334, down from last year’s $1,456, before some of the contestants donated their winnings. The employees at Slugs ’N’ Stones ’N’ Ice Cream Cones also donated their tips, which, since May 23, amounted to $400, bringing the total going to Oasis Shelter Home to $1,834.