Marine Corps Logistics Base, Calif. -- More than 30 government employees, contractors and Marines from Fleet Support Division on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Yermo Annex, put their taste buds to the test for the 2nd annual FSD Chili Cook-off, March 6.
The aroma of meat, cheese and a variety of spices filled the air of warehouse 406 as 10 contestants submitted everything from green New Mexico style, to spicy hot buffalo chicken chili to be judged, explained Reah Andrews, the event coordinator.
Andrews came up with the idea last year to raise money for FSD’s annual employee appreciation day, May 23.
“I love cooking chili and I love eating chili,” said Andrews, an Alabama native. “I thought it would be a perfect way to get all of FSD together, have a friendly competition, eat different kinds of chili and raise money all at the same time.”
The event had a great turn-out with more than 30 attendees. It will continue next year as a fundraiser, explained Gregory Johnson, the committee chairman of the event. It’s a fun way to raise money, he added.
Contestants paid $3 to compete in the event. Then, attendees purchased sample cups of chili to try different varieties and voted on their favorite, or made it a meal and purchased an entire bowl.
“Plenty of people came back for seconds or thirds,” Johnson explained.
“Number four (the chili labeled number four) was amazing,” said Sgt. Michael Pressler, an artillery mechanic here. “It was full of flavor and meat.”
Lance Cpl. Kevin Baquet, another Marine with FSD, and his mouth full of chili, nodded his head in agreement.
After everyone sampled as much chili as they pleased, they turned in their anonymous votes to Andrews and Amanda Zamora, a heavy equipment mechanic here, to count up and narrow down the top three contestants. From there, the “chili experts” comprised of fire inspectors from MCLB Barstow’s Fire Department, judged the chili and picked the winner.
“Who better to judge chili than fire inspectors?” asked Johnson. “They often inspect our facility so why not have them inspect our chili.”
The inspectors meticulously judged the top three samples on texture, flavor, consistency, spice, taste, aroma, and color. In the end, they decided chili number four was the best.
“This chili (number four) really stuck out,” said Joann Williams, a fire and chili inspector here. “It was the only green chili placing top three and had just the right amount of spice and kick to it.”
The creator of chili number four, Stacey Decker, a supply technician with FSD, was called to the front to accept her trophy, a miniature chili pot. She used New Mexico chili pods and made it only mildly spicy to beat out the competition, she explained.
Major Michael Graham, director of FSD, also competed in this year’s contest and had the spiciest chili in the competition, according to Johnson. It was a buffalo chicken chili with various peppers and spices thrown in.
“Some people just can’t take the heat,” Graham explained as he chuckled.
Although Graham did not win, he said the event is a great way to boost morale and raise money for employee appreciation.
“By doing events like this and funding our employee appreciation day ourselves, we can be sure to recognize every employee we have. Our contractors, our government employees and our Marines,” said Graham.
The FSD Chili Cook-off brought people together through competition, while enjoying their chili. People from different areas have different interpretations of good chili, and this competition allows you to experience those different interpretations, explained Anderson.
Look through some recipes, practice for your families and keep an eye out for next year’s FSD Chili Cook-off. You may be the next divisional chili champion.