Stirrin' Up the Pot for Another Heated Battle
Another year, and another chance to bring home the coveted "Can o' Beans."
This was a primary goal for the 13 enthusiastic contestants of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity's 7th annual Chili Cook-Off. Held inside the warm confines of USAMMDA headquarters, the always-lively fundraising event drew a horde of hungry tasters, all longing for the chance to sample the selections and cast their votes for the winners. Sponsored by the USAMMDA Social Committee, this year's contest held a twist for all participants, as the entries were anonymous and labeled only by number. In addition, the contestants had a greater opportunity to capture a victory, as four new categories were added to "Best Overall Chili." These honors included "Most Unique," "Best Flavor," "Most Spicy," and "Most Original."
Among this year's entries were flavorful offerings by former champions, long-time participants, and newcomers to the yearly event. Without question, the dishes were enticing, and each crockpot called out to be tasted. Infused with a spectrum of spices such as cumin, cinnamon and cayenne pepper, mixed with unique ingredients that included sweet potatoes, wheat beer, Worchester Sauce, and coconut milk, and simmered with meats like ground chuck, sausage, turkey and venison, every option was hailed as delicious.
While many contenders chose to be completely anonymous, some used colorful names for their creations, such as "Chili Party," "Verily Vegan," "Chili con Carne #2 is the Best," and "Game-On Chili (aka Roadkill Special)." Although the latter dish did contain fresh and tender venison, many assumed (or perhaps hoped) the particular deer meat in the savory sauce was not actually the result of a recent highway mishap. Nevertheless, it was quite popular among the luncheon crowd.
After all was said and done, and many palates satisfied, USAMMDA commander Army Col. Ryan Bailey announced the winners in the various categories. Top honors for Most Unique Chili went to Emily Badraslioglu, while former champion John Boxell was given the award for Most Original Chili. First-year participant Reggie Mose, brother of USAMMDA's Tara Mose, finished with a clean sweep of the remaining categories, as his "Smoked Chuck Chili" took the top spot for Best Flavor, Most Spicy and Best Overall Chili – capping off an historic day, as far as chili competitions go.
Needless to say, Tara Mose was extremely proud of her brother's accomplishments, and in his absence, she offered her thoughts on the tremendous victory.
"I've been trying to get [Reggie] to do this for the past few years, and this is the first year he's actually decided to participate," she said.
When asked to describe the key to the popularity of her brother's chili, Mose immediately noted the addition of smoked meat in the dish.
"He took a chuck roast and smoked it, and then added it to the other chili meat. So I think that's what set it apart from the others today," she explained. "Chili is not my thing. We all have our favorite dish in our household – as far as who can cook what better – and chili is definitely Reggie's dish."
And as for the treasured Can o' Beans trophy, Mose said she will keep the prize in her office at USAMMDA, since it cannot leave the building during the victory year.
"I'll probably keep the certificates, and the medals, too!" she added, with a laugh.
With the close of this year's competition, Mose will have 365 days, give or take a few, to cherish the victory, the trophy, the certificates and the medals – all for her brother, of course. And the other contestants will be able to use this time to dream up new recipes for a potential winner to be entered in next year's battle.
Who knows? With a little ingenuity, and lots of chili powder, perhaps the next victor will again rise from the ranks of newcomers, much like this year's champion Reggie Mose.
And maybe, just maybe, the winning dish might even feature some "interestingly acquired" meat.
Hey, as long as it's tasty – who knows?
To watch a video of the 7th Annual USAMMDA Chili Cook-Off, click on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OamQTQf8C3E&feature=youtu.be.