Last Friday, the lovely groundhog in Punxsutawney saw his shadow and sent us into another six weeks of winter. It was also the day for a much warmer and happier event on campus: the annual “Phil Up Your Bowl” Chili Cook-off.
“The event first started around 2006. The HR staff was looking for something that would bring folks together in the winter,” director of Human Resources, James Tometsko said.
Five years ago, Human Resources asked Campus Ministry to join them in the organization of the event.
“Chili is a great mid-winter food, and it made sense to do this annual event close to Groundhog Day,” said Greg Baker, director of Campus Ministry. “It’s a simple, fun and warm way to gather students and employees.”
During the event, people can try each chili for 25 cents. The money raised through the cook-off goes to the Mercy Center for Women.
“This year, the proceeds go to the Mercy Center for Women. Actually, the Mercy Center for Women and the United Way have been the only two organizations we have focused on,” said Tometsko.
This year, there were 14 entries in four different categories. Jennifer Bach, Human Resources administrative assistant; Matt Platz, Conference & Events coordinator/venue scheduler; and Robin Senger, Human Resources assistant/payroll specialist, competed in the traditional chili category.
Tometsko, along with Jenell Patton, assistant director of Campus Ministry, and Madison Collins, assistant professor of Physician Assistant Studies, competed in the vegetarian chili category.
Dana McMillin, assistant director of Admissions; Jennifer Woodard, administrative assistant; Dennis Donovan, adjunct professor for Applied Forensic Science; Jamie Breneman, Human Resources office manager; and Bushra Upal, counselor, competed for the title of best hot chili.
Finally, Baker and Kim Zacherl, assistant professor of Business, battled Collins for the most unique ingredient.
Along with the trophy for the best in each category, there is also a “Best Chili on the Hill” award for the best chili overall.
“I’ve been making this same chili for the past 40 years and I’ve participated in every cook-off,” said Donovan, an eight-time winner. “I think I’ve found a real nice recipe that satisfies a lot of people.”
The winners were announced and once again, Donovan won the “Best Chili on the Hill” award. Platz took the trophy for traditional, Patton for vegetarian, Baker for unique ingredient and Woodward for hot and spicy.
“I think it’s one of those things that very personal and subjective and it’s like music and wine. If you like it, you pay attention to it,” Donovan said.
The event raised $325 for the Mercy Center for Woman. Tometsko had said the goal was $250, which is around what the event typically raises.