Marion County Lake chili cook off features a variety of options
There was a tie for the title of championship chili at the Marion County Lake chili cook-off Saturday.
Bob McCurdy and Richard Wormser both finished with 100 votes; the eventual title went to McCurdy after a judge’s taste-off.
Remington Putter finished second with 55 votes and Jim Bratt took third with 35 votes.
Rick Myers won the competition chili prize and it held a special distinction.
“We’re known as the hot chili people,” Myers said. “I figure that’s the way I eat it.”
Myers and his wife, Lynda, both served chili from a simple white table. Unlike many of the competitors, the Myerses did not use a fancy display, name their chili something quirky, or use any kind of gimmick.
Myers, who looked like Santa Claus wearing a bucket hat, has enough character without any bells and whistles.
The Myerses live in Newton but rent a trailer at the lake. The last time they ate at a restaurant in Marion a resident approached him — Myers was recognized as the hot chili guy.
“It’s not as hot as it was last year,” Myers said.
One taster tried Myers’ chili and replied, “It’s pretty dang hot.”
The chili features a multitude of peppers, including chipotle, jalapeno, Serrano, Anaheim, and habanero. The seeds of the peppers were floating in the mixture as demonic blasts of heat. The first few spoonfuls do not seem over powering, but the culminating burn of those peppers is evident in a bowlful.
“I can’t eat his chili,” Lynda said.
The Myerses have competed in the contest all five years. They enjoy that the proceeds go to the lake, one of their favorite hangouts for the past 10 years.
This year’s event raised $1,163; 187 tasting kits were sold.
Myers said he does not compete to win and rather enjoys the event; he did not expect to win anything.
“It may not be the best tasting, but you’ll remember it,” Myers said.
If spicy wasn’t a taster’s speed, there were other choices. Lake residents Gordon and Judy Pendergraft concocted a chili
that was sweet. The Pendergrafts’ chili was rich in its first note and then had a sweet finish.
The secret was the addition of dark chocolate — not a lot but enough to impart some flavor.
“I’ve been reading recipes,” Gordon said. “Rachel Ray tried it. It’s just family chili.”
Perhaps the unorthodox flavor of the chili was off-putting for tasters. This year was the first time in four years the Pendergrafts did not place. They finished second the past two years and third three years ago.
Gordon said he is a chili connoisseur. He has tasted the hearty soup in Turkey, Singapore, and England.
The Pendegrafts originally rented a trailer at the lake themselves before moving to the lake full time.
Other notable entries included Tony Thompson who used pieces of corn bread, baked by his wife Shanda, as a chili accessory, and lake resident Karl Schafer who dressed as a hillbilly, complete with fake teeth. Schafer’s chili featured shredded beef.