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Area chili cooks compete

Life in South Deerfield written down in memoir

  • Recorder/Beth Reynolds<br/>Jonas Bless serves up steak chili from Melody's Place to Pat Holt of Hawley during the 17th annual Chili Cook-Off held at Mohawk Family Restaurant in Charlemont on Sunday.. "We attend every year, they all taste good and it's for a good cause," said Holt.

    Recorder/Beth Reynolds
    Jonas Bless serves up steak chili from Melody's Place to Pat Holt of Hawley during the 17th annual Chili Cook-Off held at Mohawk Family Restaurant in Charlemont on Sunday.. "We attend every year, they all taste good and it's for a good cause," said Holt.

  • CHARLEMONT, MA -January 20,2013 - 17th Annual Chili Cook-Off held at Mohawk Family Restaurant. 15 different chilis were in the competition including one made with venison. Photo by Beth Reynolds

    CHARLEMONT, MA -January 20,2013 - 17th Annual Chili Cook-Off held at Mohawk Family Restaurant. 15 different chilis were in the competition including one made with venison. Photo by Beth Reynolds

  • CHARLEMONT, MA -January 20,2013 - 17th Annual Chili Cook-Off held at Mohawk Family Restaurant. 15 different chilis were in the competition including one made with venison. Photo by Beth Reynolds

    CHARLEMONT, MA -January 20,2013 - 17th Annual Chili Cook-Off held at Mohawk Family Restaurant. 15 different chilis were in the competition including one made with venison. Photo by Beth Reynolds

  • CHARLEMONT, MA -January 20,2013 - 17th Annual Chili Cook-Off held at Mohawk Family Restaurant. 15 different chilis were in the competition including one made with venison. Photo by Beth Reynolds

    CHARLEMONT, MA -January 20,2013 - 17th Annual Chili Cook-Off held at Mohawk Family Restaurant. 15 different chilis were in the competition including one made with venison. Photo by Beth Reynolds

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Thomas W Merrigan of Greenfield has written a book entitled Sugarloaf Street.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Thomas W Merrigan of Greenfield has written a book entitled Sugarloaf Street.

  • Recorder/Beth Reynolds<br/>Jonas Bless serves up steak chili from Melody's Place to Pat Holt of Hawley during the 17th annual Chili Cook-Off held at Mohawk Family Restaurant in Charlemont on Sunday.. "We attend every year, they all taste good and it's for a good cause," said Holt.
  • CHARLEMONT, MA -January 20,2013 - 17th Annual Chili Cook-Off held at Mohawk Family Restaurant. 15 different chilis were in the competition including one made with venison. Photo by Beth Reynolds
  • CHARLEMONT, MA -January 20,2013 - 17th Annual Chili Cook-Off held at Mohawk Family Restaurant. 15 different chilis were in the competition including one made with venison. Photo by Beth Reynolds
  • CHARLEMONT, MA -January 20,2013 - 17th Annual Chili Cook-Off held at Mohawk Family Restaurant. 15 different chilis were in the competition including one made with venison. Photo by Beth Reynolds
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Thomas W Merrigan of Greenfield has written a book entitled Sugarloaf Street.

CHARLEMONT — It should have been bear, but Cindy Donahue was pinning her chili-victory hopes on deer Sunday for the second year.

“I don’t know who shot this one, probably a combination of my husband and my daughter,” Donahue said, referring to the contents of the electric pot.

Donahue, a Charlemont resident, was one of 15 cooks filling the Mohawk Park Pub with the mingled aromas of meats and spices stewing in electric pots around the room for the 17th annual Chili Cook-Off, a benefit for the local fair.

Donahue said this was her third year of competition, helped by the hunting prowess of husband Patrick and daughter Lydia.

Bear meat brought a win her first year, but she has used venison since because the bear hunt has been unsuccessful.

“It’s just a fun local thing to do,” Donahue said of the competition, breaking off to ladle chili into a styrofoam sampling cup proffered by Maureen Ryan.

Ryan, of Florence, said she would recommend the chili-sampling, her first.

“And I really didn’t even come up for the chili, I came for the music,” Ryan said.

Attendees paid $5 to sample the many varieties of chili and cast their votes for the best overall and most creative, with band Zydeco Connection providing the soundtrack to the evening on guitars, drums, accordion and washboard.

At the far end of the row of tables, local selectman Vaughn Tower and Bob Jillson, last year’s winner and one of the original organizers of the event, maintained a friendly rivalry.

“This is a two-year battle now,” said Tower, who billed his bourbon-based “Grrrrreat Chili” as American-made and raised doubts about his competitor’s “Hamburg and Sausage Chili.”

Peter Langlois, chef and owner of the Smithsonian Cafe and Chowder House in Hatfield, said he was looking to make a clean sweep, having won the Chowder Fest sister event in March.

“We just had a great time with the music and all the people,” Langlois said.

In the end, Langlois’ mixture of bell peppers, caramelized onions, beef, beans, hot sauce and secret ingredients carried the day.

Glenn Ridler of Shelburne Falls took second place and Marguerite Willis of Charlemont won the “most original” category with her pot roast chili, said event coordinator Tammy Hicks.

Organized by the Friends of the Charlemont Fairgrounds, the event is a fund raiser for the annual Yankee Doodle Days fair, scheduled for July 26-28 this year according to Hicks.

Hicks said the Chowder Fest, in its fifth year, will be March 10 in the same location.

Deb Fantucchio said she and husband Paul, the restaurant’s owners, are happy to host the fund raiser as a benefit for the community.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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