SAO Chili Cook-Off brings back the heat

Alan Fearns/Sun Star Reporter
November 20, 2012

Volunteers lined the tables in the Wood Center on Nov. 15 to serve chili to students and Fairbanks community members. All of the proceeds went to United Way. Erin McGroarty/Sun Star

Students and staff put their culinary skills to the test for the UAF Chili Cook-Off, last Thursday in the Wood Center.  The Student Activities Office sponsored the event, which raised approximately $1000 that donated to the United Way.

Between noon and 2 p.m., 12 chili teams gathered and served their homemade stews to chili fans and critics.  It cost $1 to taste each chili or $10 to taste them all.

A wide variety of flavors ranged between each chili, from the Fire Department’s classic beef and beans to Buen Provecho’s unique verde chicken and corn.  The talk of the event was Wolf Clan’s extra spicy chili.

“Dont eat that one first, it’ll burn your taste buds,” said UAF Auto Customizer Rus Armstrong.

The Wolf Clan’s chef was Justin Calkins, a geological and petroleum engineering student.  The ingredients Calkins used to bring out the flavor were hot sauce, habenero peppers and ghost chili peppers.

Ghost peppers are 300 times hotter than jalapenos, and were once known as the world’s hottest pepper.

Participants that stepped up to the challenge could choose whether they wanted one or two scoops of Calkin’s chili.

“It’s super hot like waaaauuuggghhhhhhh,” said mining engineering student, Alex Bertram.

SAO provided corn bread and ice water free to all participants.  SAO also gave out ticket prizes, halfway through the event.  Mary Buchanan won a 1-year parking pass in the general lot, and Jay Doubt, a campus firefighter, won a tour of the Large Animal Research Station.

The event was coordinated by SAO’s a Assistant director, Cody Rogers.  It is Rogers’ fourth year running the United Way Chili Cook-Off.

Daddy Benson and his daughter’s chili was known as “mild and flavorful” by the crowds.  The Pub raised the competition with their thick and sweet recipe, but the Rasmuson Library claimed their chili was the best.  Despite their expectations, voters thought otherwise.

The Butrovich Building won two out of the three places by popular vote, with Bootleg Chili at third place and Mexican Wazoo Chili at second.  first place went to the University Fire Department for their traditional chili con carne loaded with steak.

As the time approached two o’ clock, chili tasters had extra tickets that they shared with passerbys.  Those who accepted ticket offers were either warned or encouraged to try Wolf Clan’s startling stew.  The UAF tradition was a success that will light up faces in winters to come.

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