Church’s chilli cook-off

Photo by Annabel ArmstrongTrying the different chilis and side dishes served at a traditional cook-off held annually at Faith Presbyterian Church are, from left, Katheryne Lewis, Richard Helvig, of Mankato, Minn., and Alice Hondzinsk, Helvig's sister.
Photo by Annabel ArmstrongTrying the different chilis and side dishes served at a traditional cook-off held annually at Faith Presbyterian Church are, from left, Katheryne Lewis, Richard Helvig, of Mankato, Minn., and Alice Hondzinsk, Helvig's sister.

The traditional chili cook-off at Faith Presbyterian Church on Old Hammond Highway took place recently on a perfect day, weather-wise.

The day had started off at 27 degrees and crept up to 60 degrees by the time of the afternoon event.

“Our chili cook-off is a carry-over from the Covenant Presbyterian Church,” said Dwyer Broussard, who’s been the cook-off chairman for 10 years. “When Covenant and Sherwood Presbyterian Churches merged in 2001, they became Faith Presbyterian. Our members from Covenant brought the tradition that began in the ’90s with them.”

Broussard added, “I am amazed every year at how different each chili tastes and how delicious each one is. Tastes are as individual as the person, and good cooks are not always consistent, as you know. This is a fun event.”

Diners filled their plates with side dishes, like salsa and chips, salads, plus desserts, then took their plates and cups of chili into a room where tables were set up banquet style to enjoy a sit-down dinner before the voting took place.

“Everyone may vote and be a judge for the best chili,” Broussard said. “The ballots are money, starting at one dollar. A person may vote as often as he likes, with the prize a coveted decorated chili spoon, displayed in the winner’s kitchen until the next cook-off.”

Broussard said proceeds go to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

“We have always been involved in doing what we can with the society,” he said.

Monkey Chili, a slow-cooker chili made by Peggy Wescott, took first place. Wescott, who has eight children and also works in the children’s ministry at Broadmoor Presbyterian Church, named her original chili for her 3-year-old son, Richard, dubbed “Monkey” by the family.

As she dipped her ladle to give out a sample in a paper cup, she warned, “It’s really hot (spicy).”

Second place went to the Rev. John Blewitt, pastor of Faith Presbyterian, for his Golden Triangle Chili, a colorful chili that includes a bottle of beer in the mix. He named his chili in honor of his hometown, Pittsburgh, where the Ohio , Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers come together in the Golden Triangle area.

Other chili dishes entered in the competition included Traditional Louisiana Tex-Mex Chili by Broussard, Just Chili by Freda Knight, Tamale Mama’s Chili by Carol Bell and Brian’s Chili by Brian Wescott.

Bell said hers was the easiest to make as she combined canned chili and canned tamales. She won last year with the same recipe.

Brian Westcott added a pound of stew meat to his 2 pounds of ground meat, then cooked the meats with McCormick’s chili seasoning and white pepper, and added kidney beans.

The American Cancer Society is more than grateful of being the event’s beneficiary for more than 15 years, said Simil LeDoux, executive director of the society in Baton Rouge.

The money raised will purchase a make-up kit and workshop for the society’s “Look Good, Feel Better” program.

For more information on the event, go to http://relayforlife.org/batonrougela.”