What's new with chili?

Barbara Schuhmann, Helenmarie Matesi and Bob Grosclose at the Chili Cook Off desk, selling tickets and greeting people. Baptiste Haentjens/Sun Star

Andrew Sheeler/Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 22, 2011

As the temperature outside plummeted Nov. 15 people found 14 ways to get warm in the Wood Center during the 2011 United Way Chili Cook-Off, organized by the Student Activities Office (SAO). For a donation of $5 to the United Way, participants could sample five different chili servings. A donation of $10 provided hungry cook-off goers 13 bowls of chili.

The 14 participants this year came from across the university campus, with many teams adopting names such as the Admissions Office’s “Chewbacca Con Carne,” Academic Advising’s “Hot to the Core Curriculum” and “Gone in 60 Seconds,” served by the United Way and UAF Alumni.

Ingredients and degrees of spiciness varied between entries. The Anthropology Department and Americorps Vista provided a variety of vegetarian options. For the adventurous, the UAF Development Office and Career Services offered moose chili. Career Services also offered caribou chili, for more Alaska big game tastiness.

The exotic nature of the cook-off didn’t stop at the ingredients. Donald Crocker, an academic advisor, lured participants to the Academic Advising table with Hawaiian leis and little umbrella garnishes. Crocker was optimistic about his team’s chances in the cook-off.

“I think we’ll do well,” Crocker said. As it turned out, the Academic Advising team placed second. The University Fire Department served up this year’s winning chili. The Fire Department’s servers told participants the focus of their chili was flavor, not spiciness.

Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management won third place.

SAO assistant director Cody Rogers called this year’s cook-off, the third she’s put on with SAO, a success. The United Way raised $1,021 and there were both more participants and more chili entries this year. Rogers took it as a sign of increased interest, considering only two or three teams participated last year. The rest this year were new. As an example, Rogers mentioned newcomer Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management’s team “Team Charmin” and their “2-ply Chili.”

“I really appreciated how people got into it this year,” Rogers said.

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