Despite the aroma of 11 different chili pots (each containing a “secret recipe”) and a healthy preview of early Spring weather, Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce’s third annual chili cook-off drew only about half as many people as did last year’s event, when less than 100 paid to taste the spicy wares.
According to a Chamber volunteer, “maybe 40” people made their way to Heritage Park on Saturday (February 17) and paid to sample the pepper-laden creations, which ran the gamut from mild to blistering hot.
The cook-off took place on a day that featured mostly sunny skies, light breezes and unseasonably warm temperatures of near-80 degrees. A member of one of the cooking teams mused that the day might have been too nice for such a competition, pointing out that: “Chili is really a cold-weather food, and it’s not exactly cold today.”
The special recipe brewed by PHD Realty’s team was a double winner. The company’s concoction was selected as overall winner after a blind taste test by a panel of independent judges. It also copped the People’s Choice award, which was based on ticket stubs (representing one vote each) left with the various teams by the folks who sampled the preparations of all or some of the 11 different cooking crews.
Atmore Community Hospital’s “Choo Choo Chili” took second place, and the Tex-Mex recipe whipped up by The Outlaws team, headed up by Walt Smith, was third.
The low attendance had most of the teams offering bowls of chili to anyone who would take them.
When the cook-off ended around 6 p.m., several cooking pots that were far from empty were loaded onto trucks and trailers along with propane tanks, tents, chairs and booth decorations. The surplus was in bright contrast to last year, when a couple of teams ran out of chili before the event ended.