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Flavours fly high at Air Cadet chili cook-off 'Operation Crock Pot'

102 Barrie Squadron hosts filling fundraiser to delight of local foodies

The weather on Saturday was miserable with cold wind and freezing rain, but that didn’t stop visitors from lining up for a taste of hot chili.

The 102 Barrie Air Cadet Squadron hosted a chili cook-off at the Army Navy Air Force (ANAF) Club on Morrow Road, to the delight of local foodies.

The senior cadets at the squadron put their heads together for a fundraiser, and Operation Crock Pot: Chili Showdown was the result.

Competitors from around the region were invited, with North Country BBQ, The Mexican House, Barnstormer Brewing, Wildwood Hospitality, Top Chef Winner Melanie Robinson from Eclectic Café, and Chef Chris Hallman Catering squaring off to decide chili supremacy.

Leticia Cervantes, of The Mexican House restaurant in Barrie, described her chili entry as “a chili with all of the ingredients used in it which are used in Mexico. It is not spicy, as we want to make it for everybody, but in Mexico it would be very spicy.”

When asked by BarrieToday if there was a secret ingredient that would make it an award winner, well, unsurprisingly, she said that was a secret, of course.

Warrant Officer First Class Erb, with the 102 Barrie Air Cadet Squadron, served as one of the judges in the contest, and laid out his points when it comes to what a winning chili should boast.

“Definitely taste,” he said. “You want a nice spike of taste where it takes over your whole mouth. You definitely want some spice, but not too much spice that would ruin the chili. Texture is very important and how it feels in your mouth, as you want it to be smooth, and maybe not too chunky on the vegetables; they should be cooked well so that they aren’t chunky.”

A simple answer was expected when asked the question, but Erb sounded like an experienced chili aficionado.  

“My mom makes a pretty good chili,” he added.

Good answer.

And her chili would no doubt be a great baseline to compare these entries to, when judging.

In the end, North Country BBQ came out on top in the minds and bellies of the judges.

The Mexican House entry was a close second, with Barnstormer Brewing Co. pulling into third place, after all the numbers were crunched.

With a room full of stuffed and happy visitors at the event, surely there will be a rematch next year.

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About the Author: Kevin Lamb

Kevin Lamb picked up a camera in 2000 and by 2005 was freelancing for the Barrie Examiner newspaper until its closure in 2017. He is an award-winning photojournalist, with his work having been seen in many news outlets across Canada and internationally
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