Students were treated to a palate of free chili at Cornell’s 15th Annual Chili Competition in Willard Straight Hall’s Memorial Room on Thursday.
The idea of the cook-off came from the Downtown Ithaca Chili Cook-Off — an event that is hosted in the Ithaca community every year that has seen participation from the Cornell community members. The Student Union Board brought the idea to campus with the support of Cornell Dining, according to Joesph Scaffido, director of campus activities in campus and community engagement.
The cook-off featured a trove of chili options including meat, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free chili choices, which ranged from North Star chef Makayla Gagne’s “Pork Chili Verde with Fire Roasted Poblano” to Becker House’s chef Robert Davis’ “Brooklyn’s Finest Vegan Chili.”
Volunteers from Alpha Phi Omega were also on hand to serve Transdermal Chili, Chicken Tikka Masala Chili, Drunken Duck Chili and Yucca and Plantain Guajillo Chili, among others.
“This event gives our culinary staff — including line cooks, not just our chefs — a chance to get creative, stretch their talents, and show off to the campus,” Troy Buchanan, central campus dining manager, told The Sun. “We always love letting our staff experiment, coming up with tasty new dishes.
The array of chili options were concocted by cooks hailing from various Cornell Dining eateries — including Becker, Bethe, Moakley and more — and who were placed onto different teams that competed in the cook-off.
“We invited all of our culinary team members to suggest chili entries, and Executive Chef Steven Miller picked the ones who would participate,” Buchanan said.
The event involved months of planning and collaboration, with the search for cooks willing to compete kicking off in the fall, according to Cecelia Montanaro ’20, president of the board. She also said that she thinks the program has run for so long — fifteen years — because of its central location and more importantly, zero-cost chili.
“It’s just a great way to get involved with the Cornell community, bring everybody together,” Montanaro told The Sun. “And also to support the Cornell Dining chefs as well, because they do a lot for us.”
A ballot box stood on a table at the front of the Memorial Room, next to three trophies for the entries that received the most votes.