Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chili cook-off, a much-anticipated local event, draws 17 entries; Burchells win first and third places

Children slurped chili as adults lined up to get their fill at the Christian Church's annual Chili Cook-Off.
There were plenty of "fixins" to go with chili.

Story and photos by Tiffany Broughton
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway Christian Church’s annual Chili Cook-Off was a hit Monday night, after the cold, wintry weekend.

This year’s cook-off, part of the church’s monthly free dinner for the community, brought out 17 of Midway’s best pots of chili and a crowd of about 70 people.

Not all were from Midway, such as Judy Jones of Lexington. “I haven’t been in a couple months because I went back to Chicago,” she said, “but I have been coming out to Midway for decades.”

The room was full of laughter and full bellies waiting for the decision of the judges: Mayor Grayson Vandegrift and City Council Members Bruce Southworth and Kaye Nita Gallagher. They sampled each of the recipes and tallied up the scores to pick their winner.

Winner Phil Burchell displays his chili label.
"We all tried them and then rated each one privately, 1 through 10, and whittled them down. Then we narrowed them down to the top three," said Vandegrift.

The winner was Phil Burchell with his “Old Lions Club” specialty. Second place went to Gloria Batts and third went to Sharon Burchell, wife of the winner. The judges gave an honorable mention to Bart Shockley for his super spicy recipe.

“It’s always a lot of fun,” said Vandegrift. “How often can you say you ate 17 different chilis in one night and lived to tell the tale.”

The community dinners are held on the last Monday of each month. Not only do these events bring out a crowd, they are backed by a community effort.

“A lot of the food is donated and some people make donations to the community dinner account,” said chef Ouita Michel. “Sometimes we have fresh vegetables from the community garden.”

The community dinner has become a tradition for those who can attend. For shut-ins, meal deliveries are available. If you or someone you know is in need of a warm meal delivered to their front door you can call the church at 846-4102.

“The Chili Cook-off is always the most fun dinner to come to,” Vandegrift said, “and everyone kind of looks forward to the cook-off in January.”

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