Tasters Wanted: Help Choose the Best Chili!

At the Chester Soup and Chili Cook-Off, the People's Choice winner depends on you. And Psst! There'll be soup and dessert, too.

On Saturday, October 15, aromas will waft through the streets of Chester at the town’s third annual Soup and Chili Cook-Off.

Held on Perry Street from noon to 3 pm, the cook-off pits 10 restaurants against one another.

“This year we are thrilled to have doubled the number of chefs,” says Kathy Barbieri, president of the Historic Chester Business Association (HCBA), the event’s sponsor.

The competition highlights the weekend-long Harvest Celebration that includes live music and dancing, antique cars, art demonstrations, pumpkin carving, games and a visit from NBC TV personality “Produce Pete” on Sunday.

Chefs in the cook-off hail from…

–Alice’s Restaurant in Lake Hopatcong
–Blue Morel in Morristown
–Deans Natural Food Market in Chester
–Fresco Mexican in Chester
–Harvest Restaurant Group, which includes Urban Table in Morristown
–J. Emanuel Chocolatier in Chester
–Marley’s Gotham Grill in Hackettstown
–Morris Tap & Grill in Randolph
–Stryxe in Madison
–The Windlass in Lake Hopatcong

Each of these Morris County establishments will bring at least 17 gallons of chili and serve 2-to-3 ounce samples to an estimated 700 ticket holders. Some will serve (and compete in) chili alone, while others will compete in chili, soups and desserts.

Of the ten chefs, two have competition experience. Chef Bruno Pascale of Marley’s recently won Food Network’s Cooks vs. Cons, and Eric LeVine of Morris Tap & Grill was a 2011 Chopped champion.

The 10 competitors will be divided into 12 stations. Adults can purchase tasting tickets for all twelve for $20, and tickets for half-sized portions for ages 7-to-13 are $10.

The only requirement is that chefs use at least one product from French’s Food Company, based in Chester, makers of ketchup, mustards, hot sauce, Worcestershire and crispy onions and jalapenos.

The chefs’ creations will be judged by Mark Cosgrove, culinary arts professor at the County College of Morris; Donna Miller, French’s culinary strategist; and Eric Derby, publisher of Edible Jersey magazine.

The chefs get just as excited about trying to win the People’s Choice Award.

“People love to come, sample and vote for best chili, best soup and best dessert,” says Barbieri. “It gives everybody the opportunity to see the chefs in action. First they meet them and start rooting for them. Then when they visit their restaurants they know the person who is actually making their dinner. It’s a personal experience.”



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