Photos and slideshow by The Signal reporter Lakeisha Moore.
Theresa Greenshields The Signal
Not even the weather or soggy grass could stop UHCL from celebrating what is now the largest showing to date at the 23rd Annual Chili Cook-Off hosted by Student Life, held March 31 on the SSCB lawn.
The day may have been a bit damp, but the attendees and participants didn’t seem to notice a cloud in the sky or the wet beneath their feet.
“I was very pleased with the turn out,” said Patrick Cardenas, program assistant of student activities and events for Student Life. “We definitely had a large participation this year, the biggest to date. The weather may have produced some challenges for us the day of the event, but we all pressed forward and celebrated one of Student Life’s long-standing traditions. The number of people attending the event increased this year as well, mainly due to the amount of participants we had.”
The event had 28 student and faculty organizations all vying for the coveted Chili Cook-Off trophies. The Society of Industrial Hygienists and Safety Professionals took home two of the popular vote awards for Cook’s Choice and Best Chili, thanks to the master cooking skills of Kyle Adcock.
“The chili is an old family recipe that I have been making for over 20 years,” said Adcock, an environmental science major. “We have won people’s choice for chili 2 years running. The shrimp brochette is a recipe that I have perfected over the last few years. I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to cooking so I do it myself. One of our society members helped me on Friday to buy all the food and do the prep work. His name is Bob DeVitis. Without his help I would not have had a chance of winning.”
The Cook’s Choice award allowed the crowd to enjoy and vote on dishes other than chili, such as homemade corn bread and deviled eggs, and SIHSP’s winning dish, shrimp brochette. The Best Booth award, another category determined by attendees, was given to the Legal Studies Association.
Winners of the Best Chili Award, Texas State Teacher’s Association. FROM LEFT: Yadira Ramirez, Tia Roberts, Adriana Dominguez, Melissa Helgesen, Karen Jones Holley, Courtney Henneke, Anna Lowery. FONT: Kenedi Senegal, daughter of Karen Jones Holley. Photo by Lakeisha Moore: The Signal.
In addition, a secret panel of judges handed out the first-, second-, and third-place trophies to the Texas State Teacher’s Association, the Police Department and National Society for Leadership of Success. The Student Government Association award for the best overall organization of the year was given to TSTA.
The chili was not the only attraction of the day. There was a moon bounce and basketball for the kids and a rock climbing wall for the more daring in attendance. Karaoke crooners and a DJ filled the air with music to keep everyone’s feet moving. Even some of the faculty participants took it upon themselves to provide entertainment for the attendees.
The Spirit Award was given to the Office of Academic Transfer Advising for going above and beyond to please the crowd not only with their food, but also with their version of the popular iPhone application, the Angry Birds game.
“We are still very excited for having been awarded the Spirit Award,” said Ruby Villegas, academic transfer adviser and lead person on the Angry Birds team. “What I loved about the cook-off is that it gives UHCL students, staff and the community an opportunity to come together to have fun.
“I truly enjoyed watching everyone who stopped by our booth and played our version of Angry Birds. Kids and grown-up kids at heart recognized the game and participated by knocking over the infamous green pigs. But, neither real birds nor pigs were used or harmed in this activity. The event was well organized and we look forward to participating next year.”
Through all the fun and entertainment, there were a few questions that lingered in the air. Is chili better when made thick or thin? Are vegetables and meat better chunky or finely chopped? Should there be beans or no beans?
“I have always loved chili when it is really thick, with big chunks of vegetables and meat,” said Bill Everman, who was enjoying the festivities with his son Will and grandson Brandon. “When I first moved to Texas in 1968, I was told Texans didn’t put beans in chili. Here today, I have noticed beans in every sample of chili that I tried. I guess the philosophy has changed. Personally I like the beans. One thing for sure, today I have eaten some of the best chili in my 74 years.”
Everman wasn’t the only one in attendance who held this wide-spread opinion. In fact, he was in a crowd full of people who live by that old Texas motto even when it comes to their chili everything is bigger and better in Texas.