BERNARDS TWP., NJ - It was a chilly winter night, but inside the St. James School last Saturday evening, hundreds of area residents enjoyed fun, friends and samples of chili and chowder - lots of it.

The 8th annual St. James Men of Charity Chili & Chowder Cook Off attracted about 400 people, whose ticket purchases also contributed to the charity organization's many worthy causes.

After digging in, the participants chose their favorites in each category from among 26 local chefs, including dishes served up by eight area restaurants.

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The winners, according to Glenn Booth, one of the organizers:

- Best Chili: 1st place -Trevor Heckler;  2nd place - Matt Pinto; 3rd place - Katie and Barbara Straub

- Best Chowder: 1st place - Priscilla's Pantry; 2nd place - Mockingbird Café, 3rd place - Dan Herron

Guitarist and singer Joe Arbadji again performed, and was joined in singing.

Individual and restaurant chefs came from in and around Basking Ridge, Bernardsville and throughout the Somerset Hills area.

The next St. James Men of Charity fundraiser is the 5K for Kindness Charity Walk/Run in May.

The St. James Men of Charity group was formed in 2008 to engage in charitable service to the community at large, according to the organization. The members of the Men of Charity have been engaged in numerous donation and service activities including clothing drives, volunteering at soup kitchens, and coordinating home repairs. Additionally, through their three annual fundraising events; The Harvest Fest and N.J .Microbrew Night, Winter Chili & Chowder Cook-Off and 5K Run for Kindness efforts, the Men of Charity make donations to individual families and organizations in time of need.