On Saturday afternoon, people enticed by the aroma of thirty different types of chili filed into the Commons in Ithaca. The eleventh annual Ithaca Chili Cook-off and WinterFest, sponsored by The Cayuga Radio Group and Maines Paper and Food Service, Inc., was held in downtown Ithaca. Among the 30 restaurants competing for the titles of Best Chili and Wings in the People’s Choice, Vegetarian and Meat and the Official Judging competition, were the East Shore Café, That Burrito Place, and the Statler’s Taverna Banfi.
Working with Taverna Banfi at the festival were three of the University’s Hotel Administration students: Christina Zhang ’09, Arielle Chernin ’11 and Inshita Wij ’09. In addition to receiving service hours for their Restaurant Management class, the students said they had found a sense of fulfillment in working at the festival.
Zhang explained,“five of us picked the Chili Event. It’s really fun and it’s a great way to get to know our classmates better.” The students utilized the chili festival to spread awareness about the importance of eating healthy, as Chernin explained to customers that “one green chili has the same amount of Vitamin C as six oranges.”
Some Cornell students participated in the Chili Festival so as to promote their club. Students involved in the organization of Dragon Day held a popular table at the event selling t-shirts for the Dragon Day event.
Garrett Knoll ’13 explained that the club decided to sell t-shirts during the Chili Festival in order to “fundraise, raise awareness of Dragon Day and to help people in the community gain appreciation of Cornell architecture.”
[img_assist|nid=35465|title=In search of food|desc=Local residents and college students crowd the Ithaca Commons for The Great Ithaca Chili Cook-Off and WinterFest on Saturday|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]Knoll said that in the past there have been people in the community who wished that Dragon Day t-shirts were sold in the Ithaca community.
Cornell was further represented at the event as Manndible Café contributed their Chili to the festival.
Kathleen Pasetty, owner of Manndible Café, was excited about the responses her chili received and was happy to have customers from the Cornell community chose to try her recipe.
Cornell Cooperative Extension program was also present at the festival, teaming up with Operation Frontline and Catholic Charities’ Nutrition Outreach and Education Program.
Their goal was to reach out to middle class families that are struggling with the new economic climate by “making them aware of the food stamp program and also free cooking classes that are available through the Operation Frontline to low income families,” said Ellin Corrigan, who worked at the table during the festival. Corrigan distributed free pamphets about the group.
Other members of the Ithaca community were involved as well. One group of students from Trumansburg High School’s Leadership and Action class came to the festival with an objective of their own. These students gave away free baked goods whenever someone at the event would recycle. Emile Bak, a student from Trumansburg High School explained that their goal was to “increase incentive to recycle.”
For many people at the festival, it was difficult to declare a specific chili as their favorite. For Anthony Moro and his son, Justin, who both attended the festival for the first time, a favorite was the East Shore Café chili. Cornell students Ginny Johnson ’12 and Jeff Clement ’12 were partial to the Simeons Chile. Another crowd favorite was also the Taverna Banfi chili.
However, the entries that won the first place title, were Cayuga Medical Center for Best Meat Chili and Moosewood Restaurant for Best Vegetarian Chili. Castaway’s also won first place for Best Wings.
Chili and Hot Wing Tasting was not the only event held at the festival. Mechanical Bull Riding, Chili Idol Karaoke, Chili Pepper Eating Contest, Farmers Market, Wine and Beer and other contests also had members of the Ithaca community pouring into the Commons.