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Queens Chronicle

Chilly temperatures bring chili cookoff

Cold-weather event will warm up bellies at Whitestone Grace Church

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Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 12:04 pm, Thu Jan 23, 2014.

While the chill winds of winter blow, what better time than now to sit down with some nice, hot chili that will warm you from within?

Grace Church of Whitestone at 14-15 Clintonville St. is hoping the public will do just that at its second annual Whitestone Chili Cookoff, on Saturday, Jan. 25 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the church.

Nick Irons, the organizer and last year’s winner, has retired his chili pot from competition but will be on hand dishing out samples of his five-meat concoction that features beef, pork, chicken, chorizo, veal, kidney beans and a bunch of secret ingredients that he cooks for 12 hours.

“Like all chili, it’s always better the second day,” the winner said.

The event is a fundraiser for the church, though participants are not charged a fee. Those wishing to do a taste test and judge the competition are asked for a $5 donation. Last year, there were 100 visitors and 10 participants.

“This year we hope for more cooks as well as tasters. We already have 10 confirmed participants,” Irons said.

Two of this year’s cooks include a husband and wife who are opposing each other. Let the games begin!

Two businesses that vied last year will be back this year. They are Mike & Maggie’s Pizzeria of Flushing and Bagocue, a Bellerose-based online catering service.

Participants must come up with a catchy title for their chili and bring two prepared dishes. The church will provide Sterno to keep the dishes hot. To sign up to compete, email Irons at nicholasjirons@gmail.com.

Visitors will pick their top two favorites and the winner will receive a custom-made trophy and a $25 gift card. But the victor will not be allowed to compete in the future.

Irons said last year’s selections ran the gamut from sweet to spicy, vegetarian to a turkey-based version. The spicier ones are labeled for those who can’t take the heat.

Although it’s a fundraiser, Irons said the cookoff is a way to get the community involved and the best time for it to be held is in the winter. “January is a cold month and it’s perfect for the weather,” he said.

An engineer in College Point, Irons said he starts making chili at the beginning of every football season. “I’m big on chili and meat,” he added.

To help raise more money, the church will also sell beverages and hold a cake sale with lots of goodies made by members during the chili cookoff.

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