Chili Cook-off titillates the taste buds
When Jeremy Friedrichs and his wife Sharon decided to have chili for a meal at their home in Glenwood, Sharon is the cook.
But when the annual Johnny Tillemans Memorial Chili Cook-off is held during Boxelder Bug Days, Jeremy has been the one stirring the pot.
The cook-off is sponsored by Prairie Home Hospice and Community Care of Marshall. Friedrichs, Tillemans' great-nephew, was selected by judges as having the best chili during his rookie year of competing last year.
So he returned this year to defend his title.
“I had a lot of fun last year, so I decided to come back,” he said.
“It's for a good cause.” This time, Friedrichs was named the People's Choice winner for his chili, earning him the prestigious traveling boxelder bug trophy made and donated by Chris Swedzinski, as well as an engraved mug.
“I make a beef chili with a hint of sweetness,” he said, politely declining to disclose the recipe.
So why does Sharon cook the chili at home if there is an award-winning chili chef in the family? “I make it better,” she laughed.
“He puts peppers in his and I don't care for that.” The People's Choice winner is selected by those purchasing samples of the cook's chili and then voting for best chili and best booth.
The public tasting generally produces a large turnout. Pete Doyscher earned the win as the Judge's Choice for his smoked turkey chili.
His wife Carey, who was the People’s Choice winner last year, placed second this year with her venison chili recipe. Hillary DeVlaeminck was third with her beef chili.
They each received engraved cutting boards. The Doychers, who have competed in the cook-off for 18 of the 21 years, also won the Best Booth award, which earned them a traveling trophy and an engraved mug.
Tillemans' four daughters again competed in the contest; Carey Doyscher, Lu Hinz, Deb Gilbertson and Sandy Doyscher.
The competition was held on the parking lot east of Veterans Park this year. In the past, the cook-off took place in the empty lot next to Bubba's Bar and later City Hall Bar & Grill; the latter which recently put up a restaurant in the former empty lot.
Beans are not allowed to be used in the chili recipe for the judge's tasting, but can be added for the public tasting.
There were seven cooks in the competition this year.