Epicurious? The Delicious, The Delectable, and the Delights of Winning it All!
Picture it: The University of Kentucky 2017, the last warm day of October. Scores of people are lined up outside in the courtyard of the College of Engineering waiting to have their picture taken. As the photographer positions the multitude, in a room nearby, six judges are seated at a table with nine pots of chili and styrofoam cups lined up in front them. The room is thick with the heady perfume of savory, rich and thick homemade, spicy confections. Some are recipes handed down from one generation to the next, others are carefully researched and developed over shorter periods of time with innumerable willing participants to taste and critique the latest culinary concoctions from the kitchen.
Each judge’s cup is carefully filled with a sample of chili brought in by the different competitors. The room is tense with anticipation. One by one, the cups are lifted. Silverware sinks into the warm portions, and palettes are both surprised and delighted one spoonful at a time. Of the many different varieties for judging today, which one will stand out? Whose chili will be the hands down favorite and whose will have challenged admirably, fed many, and yet placed fourth or fifth?
We have all competed at one time or another in our lives — from the toys and trinkets of our childhood, to being the head of our class or going for that promotion at work. The drive of competition has fueled many a good natured and sometimes slightly nefarious struggle with another fellow human being. This time, however, the staff of KTC has come together to celebrate the unofficial start of the holiday season. And with cooler temperatures outside, nothing is more hearty or satisfying than chili on our insides!
Everyone has a favorite way of making it. Some would never be satisfied with anything less than the spiciest one that their tongue and tastebuds can handle. Others prefer a lighter broth and very fresh ingredients, and, if one is from Texas, the very sight of a Kidney bean in our bowl of chili implies that the cook obviously does not know that REAL chili (from Texas) does not have a bean of any kind in the pot! So considering that each person’s taste is different, is there a wrong way to make chili?
The answer is a resounding No.
Chili is more of a potpourri type stew and not like, say a classic French Culinary dish that must be made in a specific way with particular ingredients. The flexible nature of the chili recipe can adapt to suit anyone’s taste. From Vegetarian to all out Carnivores, there is a chili to suit and satisfy everyone.
Yet I digress. As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Not in the dissertation on chili that some fool will not shut up about.
Of the variety of chilis on display, not a single one disappointed. Each one filled its own niche with textures and flavors, and all had an equal blend of love and fire in every bowl full. Our judges, though, were on the hunt for a spicy chili this year, and boy were they in for a treat! Of the top three, one was enriched with a spicy molé sauce, the second one was lighter, fresher and so flavorful that only a true foodie could have blended so scrumptious a crowd pleaser! Did I mention it was spicy hot too? However, in the end the hands down winner was a classic. Aromatic, with a distinctive peppery tang, rich and thick and FIERY!!!!! This was a two napkin deal folks, one to wipe down your mouth and the other to mop your forehead with! To make a chili like this took teamwork! And what a winning team! Much the same as all our faculty and staff at KTC, each of us brings a different talent to the table and yet together we are almost unbeatable. And that is the whole purpose of getting the crew together last Friday. To build up our spirits, encourage, and enjoy fellowship with each other. To see how everyone had fared over the summer and what we hope to achieve in the winter. In short we, as a group, came together and made the perfect chili.
Nearly the whole KTC crew. Paul Ross had his work cut out for him!
Who can blame them for waiting so patiently?
Chili is the spice of life!
Clark & Brad savoring the moment.
After filling his hosting and MCing duties, Joe Crabtree tucks in with a well deserved bowl of fire and love.
In Third Place was Michael Mabe with Special Projects & Initiatives.
In 2nd Place is Kean Ashurst with Pavements, Materials, Geotechnology and Infrastructure Assessment.
Finally in 1st place. the dynamic duo of deliciousness, Austin Gilbert and Matt Davis with Traffic & Safety!
Thank you to everyone who made chili and shared it with co-workers and friends. Thank you also to Deborah Bastani and her crew of Pat Riggs, Judi Cromer and Andrew Myers for setting up and breaking it all down again at the end of the day. A special thank you to everyone who made and brought a dessert! And Finally, thank you to everyone for participating and making this a fabulous Chili Cook Off.