News-Sun photo by KATARA SIMMONS LJ Pepper, 12, serves Joy Hines a sample of chili Saturday afternoon during the Crazy Pepper Chili Cookoff in downtown Sebring.
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published: Sunday, December 09, 2012
Event entries double in number
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING - Dozens of hungry attendees roamed North Commerce Avenue Saturday just past noon getting their tummies filled with delicious, homemade chili.
The second Annual Crazy Pepper Chili Cook-Off kicked off for guests at noon Saturday with 13 participating teams, all of which brought their very own twist to a long-time classic comfort dish.
Teams arrived bright and early Saturday, well before attendees, to prepare their recipes for the three-hour mandatory cook time required in the contest rules. Among the many teams were last year's People Choice winner Positive Mobility and returning champion Avon Park Rotary Club. Other teams included Cornerstone Hospice, Balmoral Assisted Living, Lake Placid Rotary Club, Sebring High School team, Chillen Like a Villain, Diversified Machine and Welding and others.
The group of judges, composed of local dignitaries, law enforcement and first responders, began their test-tasting of the 13 different chilis shortly after the gates opened to the public.
Attendees were able to sample each of the teams' chili, as many samples as their bellies could handle, before casting their vote for their favorite.
Balmoral's Memory Care Lane director Joy Hines was enjoying her samples from two contestants when she voiced her opinion of the best chili she tasted Saturday.
"I like the Lake Placid Rotary chili .. .and, of cours,e Balmoral's," Hines said with a smile.
Norm Church of the LP Rotary Club was just across the street at the team's tent and was busy serving up samples to attendees with a smile and was thrilled to be a part of the event.
"Step up and grab a sample; it's the best," Church said to a guest.
"I'll be the judge of that," the guest said with a laugh.
Church continued serving up piping hot samples of his teams recipe.
"It's going great. This is our first year here. We didn't get to participate last year because I was tied up with a lot of other things at the time. But I'm really happy to be here this year and I'm planning on participating every year from now on," Church said.
As the judges finished their samples of each of the team's chili, the scoring process was under way at the judges tent.
Kris Koetje and Dr. John Pepper were tallying up scores as guests continued to enjoy the chili, beer and other delicious foods.
Sebring Rotary member Brian Krpata assisted Pepper and Koetje as they worked quickly to determine a winner.
"This year was much better than last year," Krpata said.
Both Pepper and Koetje agreed.
"We had double the teams this year, great sponsor Winn Dixie and a better turnout. The judges got a little surprise when they tasted one of the chilis this year, too," Krpata said-
Sebring Chamber CEO and cook-off judge Steve Nyhan was definitely surprised when he found out that one of the teams submitted a vegetarian chili to the contest.
"I couldn't even tell the difference when I ate it. It was definitely a good surprise," Nyhan said.
Cornerstone Hospice was the only participating team to submit a vegetarian chili to this year's cook-off.
The Crazy Pepper Chili Cook-Off announced the second year winner at 3 p.m. Saturday. A large portion of the funds raised will be given to the St. Jude's Children's Hospital; the remaining funds will be used directly for the Highlands County Rotary Club.
chili cook off (by: John - 12/12/2012)
Team Positive Medical won 1st overall and Peoples Choice. They donated all their winnings back to the charity.
Chili Cook Off (by: LHunt - 12/10/2012)
Who won and who was peoples choice?
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