ChiliFest sets tongues a blazin'
by Darren Dunlap

of The Daily Times Staff

Fifteen cooks. Fifteen chili recipes: Some old, some new, some
tried-and-true, and others invented just that morning.

So it was for contestant John Bates, who entered his vegetarian chili
Saturday in the Citizens Against the Pellissippi Parkway Extension's
fundraiser, ChiliFest 2003.

``What I tell people is, this is an old family recipe that I made up
afternoon,'' he said.

A happy tinkerer in the kitchen and the person who does ``80 percent
cooking'' at his house, Bates created the recipe.

``Chili is a comfort food,'' he said.

Some recipes were borrowed.

Wilda Cornett's ``Not So Famous Chili'' recipe came compliments of
who now lives in Atlanta.

His recipe was born out of desperation: a single man, he learned to
from television shows. It was that or starve.

Cornett's chili had chorizo, a sausage often used in kitchens in
the southwestern United States.

``The chorizo gives it texture,'' she said.

Chili brings out the bold, creative cook, too.

Julie Niles' chili had chunks of ovenroasted chicken, navy beans,
beans, jalapenos and lime juice.

At the other end of her table, Marian Fitzgerald's chili held a rare
ingredient, Wyoming blacktail deer, compliments of a friend who
hunted in
that region.

Like Bates, she likes to experiment in the kitchen. Chili is also in
at her house. Her husband, Tom Fitzgerald, loves it.

``So I make it often,'' she said.

There were new cooks.

Amy Hayes entered her first pot of homecooked chili. So did
Megan Forsythe. Both made vegetarian chilis.

One contestant wanted to enter but didn't want to cook.

``My mom made it,'' said contestant Carrie Hoffman, who tasked her
to dole out the servings of her entry. ``I don't really know how to

CAPPE set four categories: Spicy, Vegetarian, Most Unusual and
Choice, the overall winner's category.

Spicy proved overwhelmingly popular, encompassing two-thirds of the

This is good news if you walked through the door and plunked down
for a hot bowl of the stuff.

For contest judges Sen. Bill Clabough, Mike Owens of The Soup
Kitchen, and
Emily Hyden, Blount County Agricultural Extension Office, this meant
sampling it all.

Fifteen samples and 90 minutes later the judges chose Bates (Spicy),
(Most Unusual) and Forsythe (Vegetarian) this year's winners.
Forsythe was
also chosen for the People's Choice Award.

It was the first year of the chili cook-off and likely not the last
CAPPE, which opposes a four-lane extension from Alcoa (Highway 129)
Lamar Alexander Parkway (Highway 321).

Funds raised from the cook-off, silent auction and bake sale Saturday
legal expenses for CAPPE's suit against state and federal highway
departments. The case is pending.

All materials Copyright © 2003 Horvitz Newspapers.