Sunday, March 8, 2015

Great Chili, Great Cause

Today was the Bridges To Housing Stability's 5th Annual "Hotter Than Thou" Chili Cook-off, the details of which can be found in my last two blog posts HERE and HERE.  It was a nice event, and I was honored to be a participant.  I was representing my church, Grace Community, after winning our "in-house" chili cook-off last week.  This was the first year that Grace was a participant.

Rick and me (and Melody peeking between us)

I made over 15 quarts of chili, with fifteen pounds of a blend of lean ground beef and hot Italian sausage.  The result was a good tasting chili with a nice bite.  It was nicely thick and chunky.  However, there were a lot of good chilis at the cook-off, and many had experience on their side, having participated in previous editions of this cook-off.  The participants are lined around the large room at the host church, the Church of the Resurrection in Ellicott City, MD, where each church's team has a decorated table with their crockpot(s) of chili.  Each team also has a "tip jar" which is used to collect money (donations), with the "Golden Ladle" and "Silver Ladle" award winners being the teams raising the most money.  There were also prizes for Most Spirited Team and Best Decorated Table.  In addition, the chili was judged by a trio of local celebrity judges, including Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman.

While Team Grace didn't win any of the awards, we were humbled and honored by the kind words from many of the folks who tasted our chili.  We collected a lot of money (totals to be determined soon), much of which was from word of mouth from those who liked our chili and told others.  Even Mr. Kittleman stopped by and said how much he liked it, tipping generously.

I have to give a shout-out to our cook-off "neighbors," Grace Episcopal Church, fine competitors, who won the Silver Ladle award, for their kind words and delicious chili.  Ironically, their team captain and chef was named Bill, and his son, Eric.  My father, who joined our team today as our "official" photographer and videographer, is named Bill, and my name is Eric.  The fact that we were representing churches named "Grace" was not lost on us.

Much thanks to my very helpful and supportive team, all wonderful ambassadors of Grace Community Church:  Rick Sykes and Steve Girard, who joined us for the cook-off; Rick Garner, my friend and counselor leading up to the event; the kind words from and support of our pastoral staff, particularly Pastors Rich, Tim, and Mark; and a big thank you to my dad, Bill Freed, and my helper and biggest fan, daughter Melody, both of whom put in a lot of hard work and encouragement throughout.  Also, a shout-out to my mom, Gwen, home recovering from surgery for a torn meniscus in her knee, who is my taste-tester and 2nd biggest fan.

Me and my girl...and a LOT of chili!

The "Hotter Than Thou" Chili Cook-off is a fantastic event, and I was so honored to be a participant in the battle against homelessness.  Bridges To Housing Stability is a wonderful organization, and today's event brought in over $25,000 in donations.  If you attended today, thank you for your support.

Have a great evening, everyone!

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