Chili cookoff raises $4000 for firefighters, Legion - Burtonview

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Rob Douglas used pepperoncini peppers and a special blend of spices found out west.

Rob Douglas used pepperoncini peppers and a special blend of spices found out west.

CLAYTON TOWNSHIP – Chad Gibson says his Sinister Undertone Chili is “like a bowl of fire.”

“It’s not for the weak of heart or stomach,” said Gibson, one of the chili chefs who competed in the 3rd annual Swartz Creek Area Firefighters Chili Cookoff on Saturday, Feb. 8, at American Legion Post 294.

Gibson said he has spent years perfecting his recipe, which includes several varieties of beans, corn and jalapenos. He likes to serve it with chili cheese-flavored Fritos.

Robert Kowalski, who entered the contest on behalf of the Kiwanis Club of Swartz Creek, served his special Spicy Texas No-Bean Chili.

“I spent six years in Texas,” Kowalski said. “If you put beans in your chili in Texas, it’s considered sacrilegious.”

Rob Douglas’ entered a smoky concoction made with a special blend of spices he buys from chili makers in Chugwater, Wyoming.

Dan Spiece, who drove up from his home in Brighton to attend the cookoff, sampled all of them, as well as the 16 other entries.

Swartz Creek Kiwanis President Robert Kowalski entered a no-bean chili recipe inspired by authentic Texas blends. Photos by Lania Rocha

Swartz Creek Kiwanis President Robert Kowalski entered a no-bean chili recipe inspired by authentic Texas blends. Photos by Lania Rocha

“We came last year and loved it,” said Spiece.

This year’s cookoff was an overwhelming success, according to event organizer and firefighter David Myers.

“I thought this would be bigger and better than in years past,” he said. “And oh, my goodness, did we far exceed expectations, for sure.”

He estimated a record crowd of around 400 taste-testers attended the cookoff, which raised more than $4,000 for the firefighters’ association and the American Legion.

“It was a very, very good fundraiser,” said Myers. “People were very, very generous with everything, from buying chips for voting and all the raffle prizes we had. It was really, really good for us and we greatly appreciate the community coming out and supporting us the way they did.”

The Hometown Days Committee, the reigning champions, successfully defended their title and donated their winnings back to the firefighters’ association.

Chad Gibson described his chili as “a bowl of fire.”

Chad Gibson described his chili as “a bowl of fire.”

Second place went to DJ Williams, a Clio Fire Department firefighter, who entered a smoky, barbecue flavored chili.

John Grigg, Jr., a Mundy Township Fire Department firefighter, finished in third place with his smoked brisket chili.

Myers said the range of flavors spanned the gamut from “soothing on the palate to a fiery, I’mgoing to-feel-it-later” sort of stew.

“There were some that had some flair, some spice, that you definitely could get that hit from,” he said. “And there were others that were soothing, nice, and still full of flavor. There were no bland chilis there.

Everything was full of flavor.”

The firefighters already are making plans for the 4th annual cookoff.

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