Chili cook-off for veterans

Just some fo the designs the ceramics department made for the chili cook-off (Steven Jung)

Steven Jung

This past Wednesday there was a chili cook-off in the fine arts quad at 4 p.m.

The cook-off was a fundraiser for veterans of military service and also a way for people who like cooking to try to get some of their recipes out there for others to taste. I like the idea of cook-offs being a way to raise money for organizations; and who hates all-you-can-eat food? To make it better, the fundraising is for a good cause as it shows support for our vets.

Right when you walk into the area where all of the tables are set up you can smell the chili and seasonings in the air. I tried a few of the chilis and they were pretty good. Some of the groups there found other ways to help the vets besides the fundraiser. Damien Nguyen was there for the Bridge 2 Engineering Math and Science Program (B2E).

Steve Dilley also had pamphlets for an organization calling itself the Veterans Art Project (VAP). VAP is a grant-funded program for veterans that allows them to do ceramics at Saddleback,” Dilley said. I think our school needs more programs like these two, the B2E and VAP programs not only offer vets education but possibilities for careers.

“There are a shortage of bridge engineers so this is our way of recruiting new members interested in engineering degrees,” Nguyen said. I can see how this helps vets in a different way; maybe some of the vets are interested in becoming engineers after their service in the military.

They can also offer jobs to vets who are trying to find work after their service. If more organizations that were involved in careers did this, then we could employ our vets when they go back to civilian life.

I saw many different kinds of recipes for chili while I was there. There was a chili for vegetarians, a seafood chili, a chicken and duck chili, a beef and sausage chili, and even the vets had a chili. When I tried the El Presidente chili, I could definitely taste the vegetables.

My favorite chili by far was the chili the B2E made. It had pulled pork and brisque which according to Nguyen, “The pulled pork took four hours to cook and the brisque took 12 hours to cook.”

I thought the best chili was made by the B2E but others would have different opinions. Christian Hanson explained that he sampled all the chili. “I think the All-American Chili was my favorite; they gave us corn bread and lemonade which was an added bonus,” Hanson told me.

Both Duane Matthews and Kris Derby thought the vets chili was the best though. “The primary reason I liked it was because it was a chili’s chili. It had all of the qualifications as a true chili,” Matthews said. Derby agreed with Matthews when he explained, “It’s a traditional chili. It had everything that a chili is supposed to be: flavor, meat, heat, and especially ‘no beans.'”

When I approached the ves table and sampled their chili, I liked what I tasted, but I still liked the flavor of the pork and brisque combined from the B2E table.

I told the vets about what two people said about their chili and they both agreed with Matthews and Derby about what ingredients a chili should have. The two vets manning the vet’s table were Casey Wilson and Jason Conway. I’m no chili expert but if you like a chili with no beans and one that has meat then Wilson and Conway are your guys to go to for chili recipes.

Others like Sabra Landi said, “This is the best chili I’ve had.” Landi’s favorite chili was the veggie base chili made by Lenny Scarola and Veronica Obermeyer. After sampling some of the chili people would grab a chili bowl and have a serving of their favorite chili.

The bowls that the ceramics department made for the chili cook out were very unique. Some had designs that ranged from polka-dot to autumn leaves to a flower. There was also a silent auction to help raise money for the vets. I liked some of the artwork they had their. Some of the items that were there looked like they could be a centerpiece in someone’s house and others looked like they could set a mood or tone in a room for guests.

The head of ceramics department, Richard White, who was dressed in all blue and even died his hair blue was greeting people as they arrived. “We want to give all the money raised here at the chili cook-off to the veterans club. They will use the money and decide what to do with it,” White said.

The chili cook-off was $30 for adults and $15 for students. If you do not at least try a veterans chili recipe then make them a meal of chili for them to try. They are vets who have served our country. Fundraisers like these are the least we can do as a way to show our appreciation.

Just one last note, if you do decide to cook chili for a veterans ask him what his qualifications are for a chili. That way when you add the ingredients and he tries it you will know he will enjoy it.

One of the artwork that was silently auctioned off (Steven Jung)

The fundraiser offered beer and wine to go with the chili (Steven Jung)

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