Darien Kim / Sun Staff Photographer

Students sample the various chili dishes prepared by head dining hall chefs at Cornell’s 12th annual chili cook-off Thursday in Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room.

March 13, 2016

Cornell’s Annual Chili Cook-Off Features Diverse Dishes

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Students sampled and voted on chili dishes created by head dining hall chefs at Cornell’s 12th annual chili cook-off Thursday in Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room.

The event, sponsored by the Willard Straight Board of Directors, featured twelve tables of chili samples and colorful comment boards, where students could write enthusiastic compliments like “Loved it!” or “Great vegetarian option!”

Alexandra Hegerle ’17, a member of the Board of Directors, said the event both allowed students to voice their opinions and gave chefs creative freedom.

“The chefs are usually pressed for time when cooking,” Hegerle said. “They have set menus, especially in larger dining halls, so now they have the opportunity to get creative.”

Terrence Vallery ’17 said he appreciated the array of samples provided, such as Bronco-Bustin’ chili, Southwest Black Bean chili and the vegan Caramelized Onion and Four Grain chili.

“There are so many diverse gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options,” Vallery said. “I’m really enjoying Cornell’s inclusive step towards better serving people with dietary restrictions.”

Beyond promoting more inclusive meal options, the chili cook-off also encouraged attendees to share their opinions, according to Kristen Crasto ’17, director of public relations.

“It’s a lot more welcoming when students see the boards and see something important is going on,” Crasto said. “We encourage students’ opinions and participation and the turnout has definitely been higher because of it.”

Crasto added that this year’s chili cook-off focused largely on inclusivity in opinions and dining options.

“[The boards and voting] are really important for feedback for the chefs and the chili is served anonymously for a fair vote,” Crasto said.

Crasto explained that the winners of the cook-off will be announced on Facebook.

“We will post the winning chef and chili — there’s one vegetarian and one for meat — on our Facebook page, and hopefully chefs will see the positive response to these chilis and incorporate them into the dining halls,” Crasto said.

Hegerle said she hopes the event will strengthen the relationship between students and dining hall staff.

“It’s a way to build fun competition, but it’s also a way to foster community between students and their dining halls,” Hegerle said.