Cookin' Up Some Chili For a Cause

Posted at: 09/12/2013 8:53 PM | Updated at: 09/12/2013 10:24 PM
By: Maarja Anderson

The United Way of Greater Duluth hosted over 1,500 people at the DECC for their 22nd Annual Chili Cook-Off. The event kicks of their annual fundraising campaign with a bang.

But before the hundreds of gallons of different kinds of chilis are hot and ready to serve, there is a little prep work to be done.

"Every year we try to do something unique so we stand out against the rest of the crowd, which is kind of out secret," said Tony Beran, the executive chef of Lake Avenue Restaurant and Bar.

For Beran this year, their unique feature is elk meat. But over at Clyde Iron Works, it is bison.

General manager Robert Giuliani showed off their bison wild rice chili before it headed to the DECC. Their secret ingredient is a little added touch of banana.

For the competitors, it's a labor of love.

"It took about 6 and a half hours to get this cooked off, there's a lot of love in that pot," said Giuliani.

But come dinner time, it's fierce competition. 1,500 people turned out to try 40 different unique chilis offered by local restaurants and organizations.

It's all for a good cause. The ticket proceeds go to the United Way of Greater Duluth, and then back to the community. Last year, they raised $10,000 at the cook-off.

"We address things like school readiness, academic achievement for youth, access to health care, and basic human services," said the organization's president, Paula Reed.

There are so many options, it's hard to pick just one chili.

"I'd probably have to say the Little Angie's [was the best]...and the firefighter one was pretty good," said Jonathan Wieser.

Unless you have a little bias.

"The Sam's Club one... because it tastes a lot like my dad's!" said 11-year-old Autumn Bourgeouis.

It's a good cause that fills your belly, and keeps you coming back for more.

Below, are the winners from this year's cook-off:

  • People’s Choice: Minnesota Power
  • Professional Division -1st Place: Essentia Health-Lake Winds Cafe, 2nd Place: Essentia Health-Northern Lites Cafe, 3rd Place: Tie: Green Mill and Zeitgeist Arts Cafe
  • Amateur Division -1st Place: Duluth Fire Department, 2nd Place Minnesota Power, 3rd Place: Courage Kenny Northland
  • Hottest-Yet-Edible: DRCC
  • Vegetarian: Girl Scouts
  • Most Unique: Essentia Lake Winds Cafe
  • Spicy Spirit: Whole Foods Co-op
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