AUGUSTA, NJ – Hundreds of Hungry Chili Fanatics braved the sweltering heat and sometimes severe weather to be a part of the “17th Annual Sussex County Chili Contest”, held inside the Barbecue Pavilion at the New Jersey State Fair on Sunday.
The event was sponsored by Pierson Excavating and C & W Aero Services.
The competitors came from all over the state, both far and wide to compete for cash prizes, ribbon awards and “Bragging Rights”.
The cash prize awards in the four separate Chili categories were $250 for first place, $150 for second place, and $100 for third place. Winners were also awarded first, second, and third place ribbons.
Karelann Herkaler of Lafayette, entered her 9-year-old daughter Melannie’s favorite chili recipe.
She said, “Melannie loves helping me make our Chili. Everything is grown fresh right in our own backyard garden and that’s how we came up with the name “Melannie’s Garden Chili."
Melannie attends Northern Hills Acadamy Special Childrens School in Sparta.
Kathy Palazzi of South Hackensack and her 11-year-old son Ian Hoffman came up with two great ideas for this year’s competition.
Kathy said, "The day after last year’s contest two great new ideas came to mind for next year’s competition. Ian would make Bullseye Chili for the no Beans category and I would make a tasty low-fat Buffalo Meat recipe Chili and call it Reservation Chili."
The Chili categories were:
A. Chili : Meat (without Beans)
B. Chili : Con Carne (with Beans)
C. Chili : Vegetable : No Meat, animal fats or broth
D. Chili : Seafood Only
All Chili dishes were judged on sensory qualities such as taste, texture, appearance, and creativity. They were also judged on Creativity of Presentation, and the judges deeming the “Most Creative” with a special award.
In charge of organizing and running the event was chairperson Robin Casper, and assisting with the festivities were Corrine Coulter, Tom Coulter, Bob Matthews, and Carole Mills.
On hand to judge the competition were some prestigious members of the New Jersey Culinary community.
Chef Lynn Bourinaris who is Executive Chef / Culinary Arts Adjunct Professor for the Hospitality & Restaurant Management Program at Sussex County Community College and Sussex County Technical School.
Lynn said, "This is my first year judging the contest and am thrilled to be a part of the event."
Chef Mark Rabe from Oak Ridge, who has successfully published recipes and has been a Chef/Owner at several New Jersey area restaurants, also judged the competition. This was his fourth time as a judge in the competition.
Sean McAleer who is a former Chef and graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, and currently owns and operates a very successful backyard deck remodeling company called Deckremodelers.com. This is Sean’s 15TH year as a judge in the Chili competition.
There was a fourth judge scheduled to be on hand for the event, Tom Povenelli, but was unable to attend due to a more pressing engagement. His wife went into labor. Congratulations to the Povenelli’s.
There were so many entrees with great Chili recipes from all over the state.
Section A. Chili : Meat without Beans
Kelly Palazzi – South Hackensack
Jeremy Hunt – Newton
Katie O’Malley, Justin Labrie
Colleen Russell – Tranquility
Karelann Herkaler and her 9 year old Daughter Melannie – Lafeyette
Section B. Chili Con Carne with Beans
Melissa Rowe – Newton
Ian Hoffman (11 years old) – South Hackensack
Kyle Klitch, Chantalle Godbout – Oak Ridge
Troy Orr – Branchville
James, Janice and Gail Pagnanella – Sussex
Dawn Dembrowsly – Newton
Thomas Marrone – Wayne
Lucy Rudeau – Newton
Lisa Lentini-Pombro – Middlesex
James Pombro – Middlesex
Mark J. Occhiuzzo – Blairstown
Anthony Mazzola – Glenwood
Section C. Vegetarian Chili
Melissa Rowe – Newton
Donna Papson – Sussex
Palmer Papson – Sussex
There were no entrees for the Seafood only category.
The judges deliberated for over an hour, and when the scores were finally tallied up and the results were in, chairperson Robin Casper announced the winners.
2012 Chili Contest Results
A. Chili: meat without beans
1st: Colleen Russell, Tranquility
2nd: Thomas Marrone, Wayne
3rd: Kelly Palazzi, South Hackensack
B. Chili: Con Carne [with beans]
1st: Melissa Rowe, Newton
2nd: James Pombiro, Middlesex
3rd: Thomas Marrone, Wayne
C. Chili: Vegetable : No meat, animal fats or broth
1st: Palmer Papson, Sussex
2nd: Melissa Rowe, Newton
3rd: Donna Papson, Sussex
Best Presentation award: Donna Papson, Sussex
All Around Grand Champion: Colleen Russell, Tranquility
2nd: Palmer Papson, Sussex
3rd: Melissa Rowe, Newton
At the completion of the competition all of the Delicious Chili Dishes were on sale for $1.00 per bowl to the many hungry spectators on hand. We tasted so many great recipes at the Chili Contest.
From 9 year old “Melannie’s Garden Chili” and James Pagnanella and his daughter Gail’s “Godfather Chicken Chili” to 11 year old Ian Hoffman’s “Bullseye Chili”, they all tasted great. All in all the event was an overwhelming success, and in this Chef’s heart and mind,
THEY WERE ALL WINNERS.