Chili spices up the day
Winchester — Taste buds were tingling Saturday at the Winchester Exchange Club’s 16th annual Chili Challenge.
When the last of the plates and bowls had been scraped clean, Jordan Springs Market took top honors for the day, with judges and the crowd naming its chili and barbecue the best.
Nine restaurant and two amateur teams competed at the event held at the Eagles Club on Baker Lane.
A six-judge panel picked Jordan Springs Market at 741 Jordan Springs Road in Stephenson as the overall winner in the restaurant category, and it received the people’s choice awards for both chili and barbecue. The country store also received first place from the judges in the brisket category.
Co-owners Austin and Olivia Landry came to win, but said they were still overwhelmed and thrilled by the reactions to their food.
“We take a lot of pride in our barbecue,” Olivia Landry said. “Our meats are smoked fresh every day.”
The Four Winds Chili team successfully defended its title for the third year as the judges’ top amateur choice with a “beef and bean chili with a little spice,” said Carolyn Peacoe of Summit Point, W.Va., one of the five team members who make the chili.
There isn’t a big secret to the recipe, she said. “We just keep adding until it tastes right.”
Rob Connor came to the event with his girlfriend, Margi Hoffman, both of Winchester, mainly to support the Exchange Club, but the music by Cross Winds and Souled Out and the “to die for” chili were nice bonuses.
The best thing Connor said he sampled was the chili by Mo Meat Inc. of Winchester, because it had a great taste and wasn’t too spicy.
Mo Meat took home second place overall, first in chicken and pork, and best showmanship.
The turnout this year, about 880 people, was great, especially compared to last year’s chili challenge, which was plagued by “horrible rain,” said Kathy Myers, event co-chair and the Exchange Club’s president-elect.
“Foot traffic through the gates was good. We had vendors who were completely sold out, which was great,” she said.
Besides the food and music, event-goers visited vendor booths, dunked “celebrity guests” and played in a children’s area. A poker run also ended its ride at the event.
The money raised by the cook-off and the poker ride will be used by the Exchange Club to help the community, Myers said.
Proceeds go “100 percent to local charities, mostly for children,” Myers said.
Some of the groups that the club helps support include the Henry and William Evans Home for Children, the Fremont Street Nursery and the Winchester Day Nursery.
— Contact Laura McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org