Contenders Break a Sweat at 6th Annual USAMMDA Chili Cook-Off
The mid-November temperatures may be dropping, but things are heating up at the U.S Army Medical Material Development Activity. A new reigning champion was crowned at the 6th annual USAMMDA Chili Cook-Off, and the competition was fiery!
On competition day, the smell of comfort food filled every hallway of the USAMMDA building, enough to make a full stomach hungry again. Nine contestants stood behind their carefully crafted chili dishes and welcomed a large crowd of hungry tasters.
Vying for the title of chili master was John Boxell and his Johnny B's Chili Con Carne, Cpt. Amanda Roth and her Intern(al) Pain Chili, Tami Pratt and her Four Bean Chili, Lisa Borek and her Where's the Beef? Chicken Chili, Col. Ryan Bailey and his "Blame the Dog" Chili, Tammy Bailey and her Better Half White Chicken Chili, Carolyn Etzler and her CEDs Chili, Chris Benson and her Something Different Chili, and Amy Brown and her Pumpkin Chili Sliders.
When the clock struck eleven, hungry tasters began trickling in, forks in hand.
"I've come down for my lunch and this is it for today," said Mary Alice Woody, product manager for the Tissue Injury and Regenerative Medicine Project Management Office. "I am looking for a nice balance and flavor, it's going to be a tough choice," she said as she tasted all nine entries.
All nine competitors kept the competition friendly. You might say they treated each other like family.
"I shared the table with my wife, Tammy. We have a good healthy competition of cooking certain dishes, and it was fun to be here with her," said Bailey, commander of USAMMDA.
Bailey laughed as he pointed out his slow accumulation of votes this year.
"I've won chili competitions in the past in my career but I didn't quite get there this time. I'm going to come back fighting next year," he said.
The majority of votes went to two dishes, Benson's "Something Different" and last year's champion Boxell's "Chile Con Carne." It was a steady tie until it came time for the last vote to be cast.
Lt. Col. Monica Lunn, regulatory affairs officer for USAMMDA, walked up to the voting board, well aware that her deciding vote would name the winner. She voted in secrecy, the entire room waiting for her reveal. Moments later, she announced with excitement, "Chris Benson, congratulations!"
Benson's winning chili called "Something Different" was exactly that.
"I used coffee, chocolate stouts, and I used both cocoa and Mexican chocolate," said Benson, command support coordinator, and reigning chili champion.
Benson said she was surprised to find out her dish won, and she plans to find a place in her office for the "Can O' Beans" trophy. Lunn not only made the deciding vote, but also played a big role in organizing this year's event. She said she wants to spice things up for next year.
"We may get a microphone next year so the contestants can talk about their chili and maybe increase the friendly banter between contestants," said Lunn.
The event raised $360, which will be used to towards the USAMMDA holiday party, taking place on Dec. 7. As the smell of zesty chili fades out of the halls, more festive celebrations are around the corner.