Chili lovers heat things up |

Chili lovers heat things up

The soup is 'God's greatest gift to mankind in food,' a cook says

After more than 30 years in the kitchen, Al Cashion has got it just right.

He’s perfected his chili recipe throughout his adult life, “which is starting to be an accumulation of years.” All his work seems to be in preparation for Sunday, when he enters his first cook-off.

“I make the world’s most wonderful chili,” he said. “I’ve never tried to cook four gallons of it at once though.”

Cook-off coordinator Nadine Daszkiewicz decided to incorporate Craig’s first event into this weekend’s Grand Olde West Days festivities.

“They have chili cook-offs all over the country,” she said. “A lot of people wanted it (here).”

So Daszkiewicz got the ball rolling and is excited to present three trophies — best chili, people’s choice and best booth and costumes.

A panel of judges will decide the best chili and decorations, while attendees may place money in cans in front of each participant to decide who wins the people’s choice trophy.

Carol Eitel, a 50-year chili chef, can’t wait for the contest. But, unlike Cashion, she’s not out for the best chili award.

She’s entering with other employees of Allan Weimer’s office in hopes of winning the decor and attire class. They’re dressing up as gamblers (as they play poker), and maybe even a Mexican and Annie Oakley, to match the “Ramblin’ and Gamblin'” theme.

“I think it’ll be pretty cute,” Eitel said.

But, if she did end up winning for her chili, she certainly wouldn’t be disappointed.

“That would be a bonus, now wouldn’t it?” she said with a laugh.

Her secret chili ingredient is pinto beans, but Cashion wouldn’t reveal his rare recipe, which includes items from South America.

Cashion’s business, American Family Insurance, is also one of the event’s sponsors.

“I like Grand Olde West Days. It’s a hoot,” he said. “I like to be a part of it.”

So, why a chili cook-off instead of something else?

“It’s another activity on a different day,” Daszkiewicz said. “I just hope it keeps on growing. People can have a lot of fun with it.”

But Cashion thinks there’s more significance than that. He said chili is special because of its “heat, rich flavor and beef!” Making any other food just wouldn’t be the same.

“Chili is God’s greatest gift to mankind in food,” he said. “It’ll put a lot of smiling faces on a lot of people.”

Cook-off entrants will be preparing their creations starting at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. Members of the public may buy a mug and sample each of the chilis for $5 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Entrants must be signed up by Saturday. For more information, call Daszkiewicz at 824-8148.

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