Chili contest brings the heat at St. Peter’s

Mar 10, 2019

Chicken chili, clam chowder, and beef and vegetable soup were judged by the crowd at St. Peter's on Sunday before the supreme stew was selected by popular vote.

Eight entrants dished up everything from traditional beef chili to zuppa toscana and fish chowder. While some entrants cooked their dish regularly, others saved it for special occasions like the Super Bowl, and the especially bold tried out a new recipe for the event.

Christie Mateer, crowned the chili champion, took home the prize for her Chicken Chili — a recipe she improvised.

Mateer’s chili included white and dark chicken meat, poblano, chili, and jalapeno peppers, roasted green chilis, spices, fresh cilantro, beans, and sour cream.

“I didn’t follow a recipe, per se,” Mateer said. “I cook for a living.”

Mateer, who is the chief steward for a container ship, is used to cooking for a crowd, and her experience paid off. She also provided attendees with condiments to garnish the chili.

Sarah O’Donnell entered a turkey chili from a recipe of her her daughter’s friend.

“I bought some really good turkey meat,” O’Donnell said. “The turkey died with its boots on, family standing around. No grain fed, just out in the woods doing stuff.”

The meat, O’Donnell said, is the key.

John and Debbie Donovan stood out with a healthier contender.

“This is a low-fat chili, believe it or not,” John Donovan said. After sauteing the beef, Donovan puts the meat in a colander to drain out the excess fat before adding beans, onions, spices, peppers, and the rest of the ingredients. The chili cooks for about ten hours to allow the flavors to meld.

“And then we top with any fixings,” said Debbie Donovan. “We like flavor in our house.”

Toppings included chopped raw bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes alongside tortillas and taco shells. At home, the Donovans usually toast tortillas in a dry frying pan to serve alongside chili.

Susan Sousa brought Italian flair to the event with a Zuppa Toscana.

“It’s got kale in it, potato, hot Italian sausage, bacon,” Sousa said. “I cook it all the time. It’s my favorite.”

The event also served as a fundraiser for the church, and brought in $580 from ticket sales.