Football fans left their small intestines at the door this past Saturday for the 1st Annual Jaycee Chili Challenge hosted at the Hurricane Bar & Grill.
With the roar of televised college football serving as the backdrop, a horde of carnivorous, beer-swilling patrons plunked down $5 to fill their bellies with a five distinctly different variations on the famous dish including Cappy Jefferson’s chocolate-kissed chili.
With the Michigan Wolverines barely capturing a win over Notre Dame and just before a valiant Ohio State effort against USC, Jaycee President Maria Luther announced the winners.
Weeks earlier, a local staff writer and Jaycee Board member predicted his own triumph.
“The smart money is on me winning at least two of the three categories,” said the author of Tide Waters. “Anything less is a failure in my eyes.”
With the balance of a 400 word column hanging in the balance, both the judges and people’s choice winner went to Craig Milwaukee and Tony Napoli – a hurricane employee and local musician who is better known as, Tony the Dishwasher.
“Here’s a quote,” Napoli told the Weekly. “I won this one, but I challenge someone to beat me. Who wants to go next?”
In the end the Jaycees made a few bucks and the chili cook-off contestants walked away with some fabulous prizes courtesy of the Hurricane, Pigeon Key, Singh Resort’s Parrot Key, and Hawk’s Cay Resort.
Neal Castaldo’s signature chili earned him a Jagermeister machine courtesy of the Hurricane.
The Jaycees, pictured from left: Marc Phelps, Kris Ball, Christian, Maria, Jeff Fogle, Laura Fowler, Rob Busweiler, Laura and Nick Toman.
Local celebrities with discernable palettes were held in a secret location as they sampled the stewed concoctions. Pictured clockwise, from left: Christian Lemonjello, Megan Merstock, the Weekly’s Kate Koler, and Keith Harris.
The winner: Triple Threat Chili
• 1 lb of ground venison harvested from north Florida
• ground sirloin harvested from Publix
• andouille sausage
• green, red, and orange bell peppers
• infused habanero oil
• black pepper
• bacon fat
• Pabst Blue Ribbon
Dice, dice, dice and then simmer the meats in bacon fat. Add everything to a big pot and simmer as long as possible. “Honestly, there was nothing in there except natural (expletive deleted),” said Tony. “I didn’t put chocolate in it or put cheese on the side. It’s beans, meat, peppers, and onions. Tomatoes if you want to get specific.”
After the contest, Weekly Editor Jason Koler and Tony the Dishwasher enjoyed soda pops until the secret ingredient was finally revealed:
JK: You put Sambuca in there?
TD: No. I drank a lot of Sambuca today.