A Chili Night

The fact that I’m typing this means the chili contest held last night wasn’t lethal! Thank heavens.

Our news anchor, Ann Nyberg, invited me to help her judge the Friends of Madison Youth’s 1st Annual Chili Cook-Off. Along with chili, it’s important to be fearful of anything labeled “1st Annual.” That’s a great leap of faith.

Helaine and I arrived at Ann and Mark’s house around 6:15 PM. That was enough time to schmooze, say hello to 2/3 of their daughters and play with Savannah, their less than petite, incredibly happy golden lab.

Savannah is also called “The Hog.” Need I say any more?

The Cook-Off was held at, and benefited the, Madison Arts Barn. During the week, the barn is a safe, supervised, drug-free meeting spot for teens. The proceeds from the Cook-Off will help in adding a study center.

As the evening began, Ann and me and the other judges were called up on stage. The emcee called Ann, “Amy!” She did it again later. I’m positive she knows who Ann is. She just must know someone named Amy a little better.

More about the chili in a moment. First, the entertainment.

There was a country feel to the night, and that definitely started with The Forgotten Ones. I’m hoping they won’t mind when I refer to them as sh*t kicker country… old school, if you will.

The lead singer was tall and lanky and reminded me of Rick Ocasek of the Cars. They had a slide guitarist (a definite plus in my book). Another guitar player wore a pork pie hat and black t-shirt with a picture of Christopher Walken. “Beware the Walken,” read the inscription.

I requested “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette,” which they didn’t know. They did play the classic, “Just Walk on By.” It was great.

Just walk on by, wait on the corner

I love you, but we’re strangers when we meet

I wish I could remember who recorded that. I kept thinking Ferlin Husky, but Google implies not. I do know I used to play it as an oldie when I worked at WBT in Charlotte, back in the early 70s.

Also appearing was Kailin Garrity. It’s good to be young, attractive and talented. I’m coming back that way next time.

Kailin, from Madison, played the guitar and was surrounded by another guitar player, bass, keyboards and drums. Again, the theme was country and they were very good, doing mostly original material.

I thought the arrangements were a little ‘thin,’ but when they did a cover of a tune I recognized, the band was full and tight. So, it’s a good band that needs to better understand their own interplay with more complex arrangements. Easy for me to say. I know nothing about music.

The chili contest was a lot of fun – especially since I enjoyed the chili!

Each judge started by sampling four different chilies, picking their favorite. Then we each judged all the favorites.

I am not a chili connoisseur. I was still surprised at the difference in the chilies. They were each relatively spicy. None was remarkably so. In fact, I would have enjoyed something a little hotter.

The more noticeable difference was the texture of the individual recipes. Those really varied, from an almost soupy blend to thicker chilies. I liked thicker better than thin, with medium sized chunks of meat better than larger ones.

In order to keep the judges honest, we judged numbered, not named dishes. So I really don’t know how my faves did. Actually, it’s safer with me not knowing how I voted.

I am glad to report my stomach weathered the chili without a problem. That was really my biggest fear.

2 thoughts on “A Chili Night”

  1. Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette – I can remember hearing it as a kid and I can visualize the artist at the time (was in the 50s). But I can’t remember his name either. My mind keeps saying Johnny Rae (sp?) but I don’t think that’s it.

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