Serving up some spice on the westside

Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
The heat was on – literally – as fans of one of the winter season’s top comfort dishes came out to the Hilltop YMCA on Feb. 23 to try a bit of fiery fare for the first annual Chili Cook-Off hosted by the Greater Hilltop Area Shalom Zone. Featuring six entries from westside residents and local non-profit organizations, participants were able to taste, and then vote upon, beloved recipes that featured meat (and a meat substitute), beans, and plenty of spices. Although it was a tight race – it came down to one vote – Paula Neal and her chili recipe took top honors at the inaugural event that was part fundraiser for the Greater Hilltop Area Shalom Zone and part meet the community night. Neal, shown here posing with the coveted Golden Ladle, is the Partnership Director at the Hilltop Early Learning Center. She said the secret to her now award-winning recipe was not that it was marinated overnight with a combination of sugar and spice, but that it was the first meal ever cooked on the stovetop in the new Early Learning Center. “It’s a great honor to receive this award and it will be displayed in our trophy case at the center,” she said.
Shyawn Monroe, 7, piles his cup of chili with cheese and crackers.
Keri Bragdon with the Hilltop YMCA showcases her Texas Chili recipe. She said her chili can only be eaten with corn chips and cheese served on top. “It’s the Texas Chili way,” said the native of the state.
Kevin Orr, the executive director of the Greater Hilltop Area Shalom Zone, gets ready to consume the chili prepared by Gary Witte. Witte was representing the local non-profit at the cook-off. Among the other organizations and residents who competed for the top honors were Creating Central Ohio Futures, A Step in the Right Direction, and Tara Ratzel. Ratzel brought the only vegan chili to the chili cook-off.
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