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Competition heats up at chili and soup cook-off

John Benson • May 12, 2015 at 6:28 PM

Want to go?

• WHAT: 3rd Annual Chili and Soup Cook-Off

• WHEN: 4-7 p.m. Oct. 1

• WHERE: Riverview Healthcare Campus, 8180  W. State Route 163, Oak Harbor

• COST: $3/admission

• INFO: 419-898-6459

Ottawa County seniors are a competitive bunch. Not only does Wii bowling get hot and heated at the local senior centers, with trash talking and bragging rights the norm, but the heat is currently getting turned up in the form of the third annual Chili and Soup Cook-Off taking place from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Riverview Healthcare Campus in Oak Harbor.

“Let me tell you, we have some unique things,” said Ottawa County Senior Activities Committee Events and Fundraising Co-Chairwoman Juanita Mills-Persely. “I’m Mexican-American and a lot of times you sample the chili but it doesn’t have a title. Well, last year I sampled one. My tongue went very, very happy because it had chorizo in it. It was very good, but I don‘t think it placed.”

Speaking of something different, Mills-Persely said she loves the pork sausage chorizo, but she’s entering the Soup Cook Off with her own chicken-cactus soup. And yes, don’t worry, she promises the concoction will be needle free.

“Now I remember de-needling a cactus when I was a young kid taking the spines off,” said Mills-Persely, a Port Clinton resident. “Now you just go to the Mexican section in a grocery store and you can buy a jar of cactus.”

As for making a good chili, she said, “The chorizo chili was good but I did have a little kickback. That’s one thing you want to look out for, because you want to have a nice marriage of flavors and nothing that sticks out. Not too much garlic and pepper.”

In total Mills-Persely expects to have between 15 to 20 recipes entered in the Chili and Soup Cook-Off, which is open to anyone 55 and older who lives in Ottawa County. The chili or soup must be in a crock-pot to be considered. The winners, chosen by people’s choice, will win prizes. In addition, each senior center will have a winner, with the Best Of category for both soup and chili receiving a traveling trophy and plaque that reads “Bragging Rights.”

“Sometimes those bragging rights are a bit rough and tough to live with,” Mills-Persely said. “There’s not bitterness, it’s all done in good fun, but people want to win. And it used to be age 60 and older but this year we lowered it age 55 because we want to encourage people to participate and eventually attend the Senior Centers before they reach that magic 6-0,”

Finally, considering it is a chili cook-off, will air fresheners be provided?

Mills-Persely laughed, “I’m not sure about air fresheners but we will have antacids.”

For more information, call 419-898-6459.

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