Cook-off adds spice to weekend

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 1, 2009

NATCHEZ — Too many cooks in the kitchen is a recipe for disaster. But for Natchez Children’s Home Services, there is no such thing as too many cooks when it comes its annual chili cook-off.

More than 300 people carried tasting bowls and spoons from booth to booth in search of their favorite choice and had the option of tasting 25 types of chili.

Event coordinators from Fat Mama’s Tamales and the children’s home said the number of entries this year were greater than in years past.

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“We had twice as many teams as we’ve ever had before,” David Gammill, owner of Fat Mama’s Tamales, said. “Everything has doubled across the table — activities, entries and participation.”

Children’s Home Executive Director Nancy Hungerford said Gammill and Ruth Anderson — who Hungerford calls the “Queen mother of Fat Mama’s team” — were the two main forces to get this year’s cook-off’s ball rolling.

Anderson said Gammill asked her to help plan the cook-off in August and every day since then has involved planning.

Anderson said the end results of the day were well worth the time it took to put the event together.

“The most important thing to me is that local people came together for a local charity — that shows the heart of Natchez,” Anderson said.

Approximately 60 people volunteered their time to be part of day’s activities while teams vied for trophies, cash prizes and bragging rights until next year’s chili cook-off.

The Natchez Fire Department has tasted this victory in previous years and came into the cook-off with the mission to out-do a former teammate’s team.

“This is an ancient recipe brought down from 6 o’clock this morning,” Capt. Joe Ganity said.

While Ganity said the fire department’s recipe was the best in show, former battalion chief Stan Owens said his group, the Mystic Krew of Alpheus, had the department beat.

“I kinda twisted an old recipe from an old employment era,” Evans said. “When I retired from the fire department, I improved a pretty good recipe.”

However, with just one booth separating the groups, good-natured teasing was the order of the day.

“I just hope they don’t stay sick more than a week from eating their own chili,” Ganity said.

“They have done just an indescribable job,” Hungerford said. “This is about the 23rd cook-off we’ve had and I’m not sure we’ve ever seen this many people participate.”

Hungerford and Gammill said they predicted the event raised approximately $10,000 for the children’s home and its new mission within the world of childcare.

“The funds generated now, or into the future, will continue to support and care for children who are neglected and abused,” Hungerford said.

Hungerford said the money raised at the event is to go toward finding, training and helping start foster homes for the children currently in the children home’s care.

“We’re changing with the times, and expect to be here another 200 years,” Hungerford said.

Broadway Bash Chili Cook-Off Winners

First place: Chuck Mayfield for Sheriff

Second place: Delta Rentals

Third place: State Farm Insurance

People’s Choice Winners

First place: Mighty Martini Bistro

Second place: Randy Freeman for Sheriff

Third place: Natchez Fire Department

Best Decorated Booth

Krewe of Phoenix