Chili steals the show

Whether you’re an Eagles or Patriots fan, this past Super Bowl Sunday was the best time to grab a great bowl of chili at Bear Trap’s 1st Annual Chili Cook-Off.

Bear Trap member Lyle Hohnstine introduced the cook-off to management and once they received the ball, they ran with it. “It was a great idea and he really helped generate interest throughout the football season,” said Manager Bob Webster.

“We couldn’t have pulled this off without our membership and event manager, Suzette Noecker, who promoted this event, sending out e-mails and posting information on the Internet,” said Webster. “She even helped come up with names for some of the chilis.”

“This event was great because it started a rivalry,” said Noecker. “Contestants not only wanted to have the best chili but they wanted to have the most creative names as well.”

Twelve contestants entered the arena to submit their masterpieces for the contest, but only one could say they had the best Super Bowl chili.

Michael Middleton, the first Bear Trap chili cook-off champion, wasn’t shy in divulging his secrets to a great chili.

“My theory is that it takes at least two days to prepare and cook the chili,” said Middleton. “As far as a secret ingredient, I like to use Middleton’s chili mix.”

“I like to cook the chili first and then let it cool overnight,” said Middleton. “Then I like to cook it once more, which is really nothing more than a re-heat.”

With all the preparation that goes into a competitive chili cook-off, the reward seems to be well worth it. “This was my first chili cook-off and I have to say it was a lot of fun,” said Middleton.

The cook-off was determined at halftime by the restaurant chef’s and by popular support. Out of 20 overall points possible, no chili scored over 14, and no one scored less than 11 — making the cook-off almost too close to call.

“It was hard to pick a winner because they were all great, but I’m partial to Texas-style chili, so that’s how I voted,” said Bear Trap bartender Brendan Ambrose.

Every chili was great, but their names were even more interesting, and somewhere downright entertaining. One chili, When My Husband Still Had Hair, was particularly intriguing because, at first glance, one couldn’t figure out why it was named that.

It was soon after that it was explained that it was a really hot chili — a humorous jab at her spouse.

Julie Schroek placed second with her unorthodox “No Beans About It,” which of course didn’t have any beans, winning a tall bottle of Tabasco. Elspeth Hohnstine pulled down a third-place finish with her sweet “It should’ve been Pittsburgh” chili, winning a grab bag of goodies. Ronan O’Brian grabbed 4th place for “Grin and Bear It.”

The Super Bowl chili cook-off went so well that there may be plans to do it again in the future.

“Everyone had such a good time that I’m sure we’ll do it again. Maybe we’ll have a March Madness chili cook-off,” said Webster.