IR Chili Cook-off spices up sports program


Despite wintery temperatures lingering outside, things got heated last Saturday at Indian River High School’s 2nd Annual Chili Cook-off, which garnered more than a dozen entries and helped raise hundreds of dollars for the school’s athletic department.

Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor : Coastal Point • jesse pryor Above, Haley Winward (left) and Lara Carey (right) sample some chili at Indian River High School’s 2nd Annual Chili Cook-off on Saturday, Feb. 20. Right, Coastal Point employees Jesse Pryor and Ryan Saxton fielded an entry in tCoastal Point • Jesse Pryor
Coastal Point • jesse pryor Above, Haley Winward (left) and Lara Carey (right) sample some chili at Indian River High School’s 2nd Annual Chili Cook-off on Saturday, Feb. 20. Right, Coastal Point employees Jesse Pryor and Ryan Saxton fielded an entry in t

Friends, faculty and members of the community stopped by the event to sample chili and place votes for their favorites. This year’s competition was divided into three categories – students, amateur and professional – which produced chilies of all types. Traditional chili and white chili, hamburger, chicken and sausage, and a wide range of spice helped garner funds for Indian River’s athletic programs.

“We didn’t have quite as big of a crowd as we had our first year,” noted Phil Mead, a physical education instructor at the school and orchestrator of the event. “The weather had a big influence on that, but we still had a successful run with the cook-off.”

Chris Megee, an instructor and coach at the high school, took top honors in the amateur division, while Courtney Giblin won first place among the students. Coastal Point’s own submission earned a top finish in the professional category, and IRHS science teacher John Jaskowich nabbed first place overall for his chili. His secret? Freshness.

“I made my chili from scratch,” said Jaskowich, who has more than10 years of experience working in restaurant kitchens, all the way up to kitchen manager. “I used fresh ingredients and fresh peppers to get all the flavor.” He also substituted ground turkey instead of beef and integrated dark ale into the recipe. And when it comes to spice? “There should definitely be some heat,” he said, “but you don’t want to have too much.”

Entry fees and admission charges from the cook-off will be put toward the school’s sports programs – specifically, in the high school’s weight room.

“We have roughly 250 students who use the equipment in our school’s weight room each day,” said Mead, “but, unfortunately, there’s no budget for any of it. All the equipment here and its maintenance comes by means of donations and fundraisers.”

Last year, Tony Hall of Energy Gym made a sizable donation of equipment. In the past, equipment has also been donated by former gym manager Roger Knox.

“We have a lot of support from the community,” said Mead, “and everything in our weight room helps service all of our athletes. We’ve added three more sports this year – cross-country, swimming, and track and field – so we’re seeing even more kids utilize the equipment we have to offer.”

The school chili cook-off is the athletic department’s most profitable fundraiser of the year and, last year, was able to pull in nearly $700. Combined with this year’s profits, the cook-off has raked in more than $1,000 in its short history.