Unwind holds inaugural chili cook-off
By DAVID J. HARDIN
On Saturday, eight contestants decided to brave the chilly weather and show off their chili-making skills in the inaugural Tasters’ Choice Chili Cook-off presented by Unwind! Café.
All contestants paid an entry fee of $20, with first, second, and third place winners receiving a cash prize along with a trophy and a cutting board.
The first place winner’s chili will be featured on the Unwind! menu for the month of November.
This year eight contestants came out to show off their chili making skills.
Contestants Casey Rogers, Aaron Grant, Braiden Adams, J.W. Alvarado, Michael Troublefield, Richard Blackwell, and Taylor An Menard all said they entered because they like to cook and thought it would be fun to compete. The lone father-and-son duo of Michael and Sam Marcotte said they also thought it would be fun, with Michael stating that son Sam is a culinary student and “this is good practice for him.”
The competition took place outside in the parking lot in front of the café. Judges consisted of customers who for $15 purchased wristbands to taste all of the contestants’ chili. Each judge was given multiple tickets so that they could drop them in the bucket of each of their favorite contestant’s chili, and each judge received a pint of beer or a specialty drink.
Corey Johnson, a Copperas Cove resident who came out to judge, said it was going to be a tough choice to choose.
Third Place went to Michael Troublefield, second place went to Braiden Adams, and first place winners Michael and Sam Marcotte.
The Marcottes’ chili had one key ingredient: smoked brisket.
Michael said they defatted a 16-pound brisket, smoked it for five to six hours. The heat comes from an equal mix of guajillo and arbello peppers, similar to cayenne peppers, along with two chipotle jalapeños, added to a sauce with cumin, Mexican oregano, sweet onions, garlic. All are simmered for several hours, after which the Marcottes added beef stock, followed by the cubed brisket. They served up their dish with sweet corn bread.
The father-and-son team said they were thrilled to win the first chili cook-off at Unwind!.
Alicia Menard also said she was thrilled with the amount of participation.
“I thought about having this event, and thought it would be good to get the community involved and so we have been advertising this event for three months, and it would a good time to do it during the chilly, fall-like weather” Menard said.