The 25th Annual Chilifest

By Michelle McShane

While rummaging around in the deep freezer one morning,  I accidentally left 8 pounds of ground beef out.  I came home that evening to the wonderful aroma of chili emanating from the house. It seems my husband stumbled upon the meat; mostly thawed and his “Shawn’s Three Gallons of Accidental Chili” was born. Fortunately, the next day also happened to be our annual fall party, and we had over 20 dinner guests coming. There were no leftovers.
If three gallons of chili (about 12 litres) sounds like a lot, the 20 or so chef’s who enter the Hospice ChiliFest are recommended to make about 25 gallons (95 litres!) of chili each, to be tasted by a panel of judges, AND up to 4,000 public tasters!
Head down to Confederation Park on Saturday, September 26th from 12-3pm to be a taster at the 25th annual Chili Cook-Off.  Advance Ticket prices are $10/adult and $6/child, or a family pass for 4 is $27. There are a number of locations where you can purchase tickets in advance, the “door” price is a little higher. Proceeds raised from ticket sales and other local sponsors are administered by Hospice Kingston to help support individuals and families living with life-limiting illnesses or coping with grief and loss.
Chili cook off’s are a popular autumn event in North America, the first one was said to be held in 1967 in Terlinga, Texas, which allegedly ended in a tie between a New Yorker and a Texan. And I’m sure you’ll agree that no two chilis are alike!
The 2014 winner in the “Best Original” category was Martha’s Table. This year, Ronda Candy of Martha’s Table and Pete Duharme from Trillium College are joining forces to create a one of a kind chili, “We’re taking chili way back to when it was tangy, a bit sweet & very spicy. I can’t tell you all of the unique ingredients, but one of them is black coffee, strong enough for your spoon to stand up in the cup!” Candy shares with me. She adds that Martha’s Table has been supporting the Hospice ChiliFest for 6 years now, they are happy to be partnering with Trillium College to support a great cause in a wonderful city.
Categories at the Hospice Chilifest include Tex-Mex, Ethnic, Vegetarian, Family and Original; the latter two being the only categories that have no rules. This year will see entries from some of Kingston’s favourite restaurants, including Kingston Brewing Company and Harper’s Burger Bar alongside church groups, the Ambassador Hotel and the Kingston Professional Firefighters Association.
Besides chili, the popular autumn festival will also see a kids zone, wagon rides and live entertainment.
Shawn’s “Three Gallon Accidental Chili” will not be making an appearance at this year’s ChiliFest, but the recipe is written down in our family cookbook, and we still serve it every year at our annual gathering. Maybe one of these days, he will make 25 gallons of it, and show up at the Hospice ChiliFest.