ELLISVILLE, Mo. — Sunday was the perfect day for a chili cookoff. Cooks served up their best at the Crafty Chameleon Brewery in Ellisville.
It was homemade chili, with a healthy portion of charity to benefit Backstoppers, an organization that helps the families of first responders injured or killed in the line of duty.
“It just seems like February is a great time for chili," restaurant owner Jay Quezada said, "and every year we’ve been doing this. We love our first responders in our local area. They’re good to us. We like to give something back. It’s important to us.”
Quezada said in years past, they've raised $1,000 for BackStoppers. This year he was hoping to double that. For a $10 donation, customers could sample the different chilis and vote.
Chili chefs lifted the lid on their best game.
“It’s somewhat spicy,” said Wayne Coop. “I smoked some sausage and hamburger together in my smoker, and then put that in there.”
Sherry Voegtli said, “It’s got jalapeno peppers, Anaheim peppers, poblano peppers, a lot of stuff.”
“It doesn’t taste real spicy, though,” she said. So where does the recipe come from?
“Can’t tell,” said Voegtli, laughing.
Aside from their individual ingredients, there is friendly competition among the chili cooks. They know each other from previous year’s competitions.
Susanne Chippendale, too, declined to discuss where her recipe came from.
Dave Sickinger, however, had upped his ingredients since last year.
“I think we got second place, didn’t we?” said Sickinger, looking around and asking the other chili cooks. “Behind Susanne, as I recall.”
As a result, Sickinger had high hopes for his burnt ends chili.
“I’m hoping for second place,” he said, “because I know who is coming in first!”
Game on. Chili for charity. Everybody wins.
This chili cookoff has been happening for six years now.