It may not be the Stanley Cup, but the traveling Chili Master of the Year trophy is a sought-after prize among the Welchester Elementary School staff members.
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It may not be the Stanley Cup, but the traveling Welchester Chili Master of the Year trophy is a sought-after prize among the Welchester Elementary School staff members.
This year, preschool teacher Karen Kitchner and her white turkey chili took home the trophy after winning the staff category in the school’s 20th annual chili cookoff fundraiser.
Kitchner, a first-time cookoff participant, said she entered for the “spirit of competition.”
The school’s PTA hosted the Nov. 10 chili cookoff and silent auction, as about 125 people sampled nine chilis concocted by Welchester parents and staff members.
The cookoff has been on hiatus since 2019, while the silent auction went virtual the past two years, PTA members Nikkole Cubbage and Oatis Green explained. Last year’s silent auction raised $3,000-$4,000, all of which goes directly back into the school, they said.
Companies, parents and classes donate items every year, and this year’s selection included bicycles, “assistant principal for half-a-day” for the students, puzzles, games and more.
In the cafeteria, the nine cooks were dishing out small servings of their chili. The highest compliment — aside from winning — was attendees asking for seconds.
Assistant Principal Jennine Tarpley, who’s competed three times with her red chili recipe, had hoped this time would be the charm and she’d finally win the Chili Master trophy. She believed offering toppings of Fritos and cheese would put her over the edge against her coworkers.
Even still, the best part of the event for her was hearing the cooks’ stories about their chilis and the competition over the years, Tarpley described.
Both Tarpley and Kitchner believed the event was a great way to bring together the Welchester “school family,” as Kitchner described it.
In the green chili category, the Beaudettes — parents Mike and Brittany with third-grader Krystale and first-grader Kaela — were carrying on a family tradition.
Mike’s dad and brother competed when his nieces and nephews attended Welchester. His dad died recently, and Mike based his green chili recipe on his as a tribute.
“I’ve been cooking it over the past two days and felt very connected to him,” Mike continued.
Additionally, Mike has worked in the restaurant industry for 25 years, including as a chef. So, it seemed only natural to participate in the school’s chili cookoff, he described.
On the other side of the table, first-time participants Jerry and Dawn Williams and their fourth-grader Randi were offering a spicy green chili. Jerry explained how he enjoys cooking and wanted to try out his recipes on a wider audience than family and close friends.
The family had received positive feedback on their entry, with Jerry adding that he was having fun and would be willing to compete again next year.
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