Episcopal Church fights cold weather with hot chili

Feb 5, 2023

After a record-setting cold snap blew through New England this weekend, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Padanaram warded off the chilly weather with a chili cookoff on Sunday, Feb. 5.

The fundraiser, despite its title, featured 10 different soups ranging from portuguese kale to turkey chili — including the winning entry, a clam boil stew made by Michael Whitley.

Whitley, a professional cook, said the recipe was a family favorite that he adapted from a classic clam boil that his father-in-law used to make for him.

Whitley’s son, Brayden, 10, said the soup was one of his favorites.

“It’s so good — he makes it for so many people,” he said. “So it became a big family recipe.”

Pastor Scott Ciosek said that Whitley will receive a gift card to either the Sail Loft or Farm and Coast market for his first-place entry.

Ciosek explained that the chili cookoff began as an annual event several years ago but had to be put on hold during the Covid pandemic. This weekend’s cookoff, he said, was the triumphant return, though he noted that attendance still hadn’t quite reached its former peak.

“I think people are still playing it safe,” he said, adding that he was still “very happy with the turnout.”

However, there may be more opportunities for the events to regain their pre-Covid popularity, as the church is considering making it a yearly tradition again.

“We’re hoping that it becomes an annual thing,” said Isabel Consoli, a member of the church leadership team, who helped organize the event and even contributed her own broccoli cheddar soup, which took second place.

As the parishioners and visitors — some of whom came from the nearby Congregational Church of South Dartmouth and St. Mary’s Catholic Church — enjoyed the buffet and chatted happily with one another, Ciosek said he was glad to see people socializing again.

“It’s all about gathering the community together,” he said. “That’s something that’s very important to us and also something that has been difficult in the last few years because of Covid.”