CCSO’s McLaughlin arrests the competitors together with her pot of chili
FLEMING ISLAND – Some samplings at this 12 months’s First Responder Chili Cookoff have been spicy. Some have been candy. Some have been savory. Every bowl had a definite taste profile, comprised with or with out beans, hen, beef or pork. One participant supplied a inexperienced concoction, Chili “Verde,” made with out tomatoes or chili powder.
Every bowl introduced one thing totally different to the desk, however every shared one factor in frequent: a scrumptious first chunk.
Members of the Clay County Sheriff’s Workplace, Hearth Rescue, Emergency Administration, District Faculties Police Division and the Inexperienced Cove Springs and Orange Park police departments competed for one of the best pot of chili Sunday at Whitey’s Fish Camp.
Whereas the businesses have been competing for a trophy, the actual prize was bragging rights till subsequent 12 months’s occasion.
“The voting was actual shut this 12 months,” stated occasion coordinator Susan Lightsey. “First place gained by between 5 and 10 votes. The distinction between second and third was only one vote.”
Style testers voted to bestow the trophy – and the accompanying bragging rights – to CCSO Deputy Traci McLaughlin’s chili, which stood out amongst 20 entries.
Inexperienced Cove Spring Police Chief E.J. Guzman completed second, whereas firefighter Andrew Fraley was third.
The occasion benefited Clay County’s Sign 35 Fund, which helps first responders and their households throughout occasions of want.
“Our objective was to boost $2,000,” Lightsey stated. “Though we lower off the entries this 12 months (from 22 final 12 months) to twenty, we raised $2,600. Issues went very, very properly. As a result of I had different issues to do, I solely ate slightly little bit of the chili, however what I tasted was spectacular.”
Runner-up Guzman stated he ran out of chili first.
“I tasted many of the entries, and I believed the first-place winner had a very good style,” he stated. “I knew mine tasted good, however I wasn’t positive how it will be acquired. I believed I had a profitable likelihood when folks began coming again for seconds and thirds. Additionally, folks began asking about my recipe.
“I seen my pot was the primary to be empty, so I figured that was a superb signal.”
Lightsey stated organizers are already engaged on the 2024 competitors.
“We discovered loads from final 12 months to this 12 months, particularly with how issues have been organized,” she stated. “We moved issues round so there was a greater move. Issues positively ran smoother.”
One other change was the prizes. As a substitute of a silent public sale, friends purchased tickets and gained gadgets in a raffle.
“We’re occupied with increasing issues subsequent 12 months, possibly to the skin porch space,” Lightsey stated. “Or a minimum of, we’ll transfer the raffle gadgets to a different a part of the restaurant. That approach, we’ll open up much more room.”
Whitey’s will flip up the spice once more in the course of the first weekend of February with its annual Chili Cookoff Open. In contrast to the First Responders occasion, the place individuals vote for winners, a panel of judges will decide the winner.