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T.A. Loving participates in Chili Cookoff

Article from the Goldsboro News Argus.

Center Stage cook Mike Saviak's chili recipe is based off tweaking.

"What I cook, I taste. If it doesn't taste right, I add a little more."

T.A. Loving cook Mike Mitchell likes to use different types of peppers. The exact recipe is a guarded secret.

"I'd tell you what I put in it, but then I would have to kill you."

And Carl and Chelle's Grill Room cook Carl Lewis pays special attention to quality of ingredients.

"If you start with the good stuff, you're going to end with the good stuff," Lewis said.

Head judge and three-time state champion chili cook Vicki Rice, however, gave her top tip for chili cooking -- stick to the recipe.

"You know someone is having problems when they start asking for ingredients they didn't bring with them," Mrs. Rice said.

But during the Really Chili Challenge 2013, the chili was secondary to the real reason 18 teams spent Saturday morning stirring pots of beans, beef -- or chicken -- in tomato sauce in downtown Goldsboro -- to raise money for the Soup Kitchen of Goldsboro.

Eight years ago, Ann Hunter, a board member of the organization, saw a chili challenge in Little Washington. And she brought the idea back to Goldsboro.

"I thought, 'We can do that.' And I don't think anyone was doing one here," she said.

After a year of planning, the soup kitchen held its first chili competition. Today, the event, now in its seventh year, is the soup kitchen's primary fundraiser.

"We just kind of invented it as we went along," Mrs. Hunter said.

And like most recipes, it has evolved through the years. The event used to feature a road race and acted as a Chili Appreciation Society sanctioned chili competition. But now, it's simply a good, old-fashioned, fun cook-off between friends as teams can use chicken or veggies among their beans and beef to impress the community.

"It's a great fundraiser. We have community awareness. People have a great time, and we get to eat chili," co-chairwoman Phyllis Patterson said.

"We would have a hard time with our budget if we didn't hold the fundraiser," board member Tom Casey said. "It's one of those things that keeps the board active in the community, even if it doesn't make us lots of money."

The final tally for the fundraiser won't be known until the Soup Kitchen has enough time to count all the donations, but Mrs. Patterson says the fundraiser is a "large shot in the arm."

Chilis were judged based on taste, color, consistency and number of other qualifiers, but Mrs. Rice told her counterparts to focus primarily on one criterion overall.

"If you were deserted on a desert island for 30 days, what chili would you want to eat every day," she said.

Judging takes place in two different rounds. The first 10 judges taste all the chilis then pass the top ones to five judges who determine the final results. Judges use numbered cups so they don't know which chilis they're tasting.

At the end of the day Saturday, BB&T's chili team took first place. Immediate Care took second, and Carl and Chelle's Grill Room placed third.

People's Choice was awarded to the Wednesday Night Crew, a group of friends who meet every Wednesday to eat and put some cash in a pot for the fundraiser.

T.A. Loving placed second in People's Choice, and N.C. Wesleyan College took third in the category.

As for Best Booth, T.A. Loving's Halloween-themed grabbed first with four members dressed as four-slasher flick monsters -- Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason and the Scream slasher.

Finally, the Best Team Name went to Immediate Care's Dr. Chili and Mr. Hyde's Germ Kickin' Chili.

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