CHILI COOK-OFF BIG SUCCESS
April 3, 2016
Fragrant scents of simmering onions, chili peppers, & exotic spices filled the air as the Elks held their 2016 Chili Cook-Off on the lawn of the Mission Viejo Saddleback Valley Elks Lodge. Eight teams competed in this year’s event. The entries this year were: IBS Kings, Team Rich, Run-A-Ways, Good Ass Chili, Firefighters Best, Daddy’s Angels, Lumley’s Long Lasting Chili, and Tex Line. PER Bill James provided the band “Roll the Dice” for the event. They generously donated their services and kept the music flowing throughout the afternoon. The atmosphere was electric as members and guests filled the lawn, keeping time with the music, and visiting the booths to sample the eight delicious chilies.
The cooking team of “Team Rich” with Rich & Rhonda Hogbin, and Frank and Sandy Scarpine took first prize. Second place went to “Good Ass Chili” with cooks Ed Mackey and granddaughter Cecilia. Ed’s team also won the top “People’s Choice” award. “Fire Fighters Best” with cooks Mike Long (Leading Knight) and wife Vicky took third place. The Mission Viejo Fire Station 24 Firefighters who were scheduled to Judge the event for the seventh year were on a call and could not make it to the Lodge for the judging. We know it’s “Duty first” and we are thankful for their service to the community. Event Chairman Andy Costello put plan “B” into action and called upon his back-up team of judges: Last year’s cook-off winner ER Dave McLeod, gourmet cook Sue Catarino, chili expert Texas Charlie Hart, and a past cook-off winner Karl Beirschmitt took on the task. Mary Ann Costello managed the People’s Choice drawing and tallied the 145 ballots.
Our thanks go out to the judges and to all the teams that competed. Comments were made throughout the afternoon by many chili tasters who wondered how the judges could possibly pick winners since the entrees were all so good. Their observations proved to be correct because, as it turned out, there was a three way tie for third place and the judges had to go back a second and a third time to judge those entries. Only one point separated the third place winner from the fourth in the final standings. Many said this year’s entries were overall the best they’ve sampled. All the participants vowed to return next year to win.
The Chili Cook-Off is a big undertaking and could not take place without the help of many people. Thanks to Loyal Knight Mike Klinger for the event publicity and photography. Thanks also to current RAWs Wagonmaster Jim Lapierre and past Wagonmaster PER Pat Martino and the Run-A-Ways campers who along with many Lodge members helped set up and take down the canopies, tables & chairs – a big job well done. Thanks also to Kevin Hughes who flipped burgers and hot dogs and Lodge kitchen manager Pam Mackey, and helpers Julie Thomas, Linda Hauxhurst, and Jean Chapman for providing the kitchen back up salads & fixins.
The Cook-Off is an annual celebration. It is sponsored by the Elks camping club “The Run-A-Ways,” and is always a free event for the hard working Lodge members and their guests. It is not considered a major fundraiser for the Lodge. Nonetheless, this year’s proceeds and donations for the day totaled $2,036 and were earmarked for Elks Charities. Mission Viejo/Saddleback Valley Elks Lodge #2444 is celebrating 47 years of service to Saddleback Valley Communities. It is one of 10 lodges in the Orange Coast District of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) whose headquarters is in Chicago, Illinois. The BPOE is a charitable organization with a 148 year history of giving. "Elks Care Elks Share"