BERNARDS TWP., NJ - The hardworking St. James Men of Charity fed 400 to 500 people on a damp and foggy Saturday night for its annual Chili and Chowder Cookoff fundraiser, but that's not where their efforts end - the funds raised will go to support the MOC's help for individuals and other causes to which they donate.
The Chili and Chowder fundraiser - during which attendees get to sample and then vote for their favorite chili and, in a separate vote, for chowder, attracted 25 local restaurants and individual chefs this year, said Glenn Booth, one of the annual event's organizers. The ninth year of the event was held at the St. James School gymnasium in Basking Ridge.
The "contestants" presented large pots of the soul-warming entries from professional kitchens belonging to such Basking Ridge restaurants as Delicious Heights, the Mockingbird Cafe, the Washington House, and Soup Shoppe, which has presented many award-winning chilis the years, and also from popular home cooks.
This year's winners, Booth said, are:
1st place: Matt Pinto: cioppino chili
2nd place: Soup Shoppe: green and white bean chili
3rd place: Delicious Heights: Traditional Texas chili with corn bread, croutons, diced onions, sour cream and cheese
1st place: Priscilla's Pantry: Feast of the Seven Fishes Chowder
2nd place: Mockingbird Cafe: Corn Chowder with Andouille Sausage and Chicken
3rd place (tie): Dan Heron: Shrimp with Corn Chowder
3rd place (tie): Washington House: Clam Chowder
Beer, wine, sodas, cheeses and salad rounded out the menu.
After all these years, still some first timers
Although the fundraiser has become well-known through the years, it's still attracting some first timers.
"It's great," Angelo Calamusa of Basking Ridge said of Saturday night's spread, adding he had never been to one of the cookoffs before. Fairly early in the evening, he said he had sampled one chowder, and four different types of chili, and at that point already had two favorites.
Proceeds will benefit works of charity both inside and outside the St. James parish community performed by the Men of Charity. For more information and updates, check the event's Facebook page.