By Emily Hunter, Workplace Campaign Associate
OK, so let me preface this first by stating that I’m a foodie. I love food so much I want to marry it. Buffets are my best friend. So when the Town of Mint Hill invited me to speak at their chili cook-off to raise money for the Arts & Science Council (ASC) workplace campaign, my first thought was: “Bring it.”
I arrived at the Mint Hill Town Hall to a line wrapped around the front of the building and more than 20 different chilis all simmering in crock pots waiting to be eaten. $5 bought you a bowl to refill as often as you wanted, and all the money went directly to ASC. What could be better?
The Mint Hill Chili Cook-off is an annual event, and people flock from all over the area to compete and enjoy the concoctions. There was every type you could imagine. White bean chili, five meat chili, Italian chili, and chili so hot it came with a warning. I fell in love with “Bambi’s Revenge”. Deer meat (and don’t you dare say eww) with plenty of spice. But it wasn’t just about the chili, it was about the community.
Robin Edwards, the coordinator of Mint Hill’s ASC campaign, put together a celebration of arts and culture in the Town of Mint Hill. I was fortunate to hear the Queens Grant Community School’s Band and Choir perform. Mint Hill’s famous Dwight Moody and Lee Jones played blue grass and told stories from their days on the road. I sat with locals as they regaled tales of award winning biscuit recipes that span 100 years, and I talked with a woman who volunteered for the ASC fund drive phone banks back in the late 70’s. It reminded me of my childhood growing up in my small town, and it was perfect.
Honorary chili judge Janet Malkemes, of CPCC’s Levine Campus, declared Ken Snyder the winner with his “Old San Antonio Chili” (classic chili with sour cream, chives, onions, and cornbread on the side).
Eventually things wrapped up, people headed back to their homes and workplaces. The foodie in me wanted to stay longer and gorge on seconds (and thirds), the small town gal wanted to hear more stories, but in the end it wasn’t a bad Tuesday at work. And if anyone knows of any other chili cook-offs going on in the area… help a girl out!