PARKERSBURG - Chili chefs from around the area gathered Saturday for the first Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cookoff in the new Point Park.
Jill Parsons, president and CEO of the sponsoring Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, said the cookoff had a variety of entrants, individuals, businesses and organizations. She said the ingredients in the chili was as varied as those making them.
"There are some with wild game and vegetarian chili," she said. "There's a white chili, we have some with many different things."
Jim Blair and Carolyn Edwards, both volunteers at the Red Cross, served a chili recipe by Blair that he came up with just before the cook off. He said he didn’t enter his usual recipe since he had to list his ingredients and he does not share his special recipes. (Photos by Jeffrey Saulton)
Many of those at the cook off said they wanted to come up with something that was out of the ordinary.
Stewart Powderly with United Bank said the bank's entry was a collaboration between two bank employees.
"Rita Dotson actually made the chili and Chad Mildren hunted all the meat himself and donated it for this," he said. "She came up with the recipe using the meat and it has a little spice to it."
Dan Stemple of Parkersburg, who entered his first cookoff this year, said he has made chili for years for family and friends and his chili is known for being spicy, but not overpowering.
"Everybody seems to like it," he said. "I decided to enter and see how I'd do."
Stemple said his chili was unique for its bite.
"It has a slow bite to it," he said. "It's spicy but it's not spicy going down but you can feel it about a minute later. It's got a slow bite."
Vern Harris of Mineral Wells also entered her first chili cookoff with what she called her "Nose to Toes Chili." She said she created the recipe for the restaurant at the Comfort Suites in Mineral Wells.
"This is one I'm real fond of,' she said. "We are out of the Comfort Suites in Mineral Wells, and we have all kinds of guests during the week and weekends. It's not one that will really knock you back, but it will really warm you up."
Harris said her recipe was what she called a slow burn.
"It's not an 'in your face, run for a glass of milk' thing," she said. "We have a lot of elderly travelers come through and you don't want to hurt any."
Russ Rice of Parkersburg said he came up with recipe to use about 20 pounds of wild game a friend gave him.
"We have elk, antelope and venison, " he said. "It's not a recipe , we kind of hang out and make chili."
Rice said it has many flavors that make it unique.
"It's got a lot of different layers of flavor in it," he said. "I don't like to make anything that tastes like what other people make."
Rice said the batch he made for the cookoff was cooked over a 12-hour process.
"My mom taught me how to cook when I was really young," he said. "We didn't have a lot growing up, but one thing we always did have was food on the table. Cooking is a testimony to my mom."
Rice said he also had help from friends Daniel Slone and Grant Full.
Mike Lutz, sous chef at the Blennerhassett Hotel, said there was a brainstorming session to come up with a unique recipe for the hotel to offer at the cookoff. They decided to use antelope.
"We figured a lot of people would go with the usual ground beef, ground pork or the occasional chicken," he said. "Most of the comments have been pretty positive, some said it was on the sweet side. Overall it was positive."
Jim Blair of Parkersburg said his chili was smoke flavored but not his usual recipe. Blair said his recipe was developed by he and others at the Red Cross.
"There were four of us and made this up," he said. "We put a little bit of this and a little bit of that until we came up with this."
Blair said he didn't disclose his recipe because it he wants to keep a secret.
"I have a special recipe, but the chamber said I had to put down everything I put in it and I won't give nobody my recipe," he said. "My daughters say they'd like to have my recipe, but I say no."
Blair said he plans to let them have his recipes, for a price.
"I told them next year I'm going to come out with a cookbook and you can buy my recipes," he said.
Blair's chili is called Jim and I. The "I" is whoever helps, he said.
"We're the Jim and I's," he said.