Team Gad~Zukes Reporting!
It was just like a family reunion! The kind of reunion where there are faces you recognized and are happy to see again and family members you are meeting for the first time. This is what it feels like to be part of a chili cook off, a crowd of like minded chili-heads all there for a good cause, good times and great food!
The 2011 New England Regional Chili Cook Off was held in beautiful Somers, CT. When I say beautiful, I am not exaggerating! The drive down from the hotel in Enfield brought us through some spectacular pastural scenery. Over hill & dale we went until just over a rise it came into view, all the colored tents and a beehive of activity. Excitement was in the air for sure.
This being only our forth time cooking in a chili cook off, the newness was still there. What was a big help was how well the entire event was run. From set up to cooks meeting, serving the hungry crowds all the way to judging. the awards and break down, everything seemed to move in a frenetic, yet orderly fashion!
Fist off I want to thank (blame) Mike & Kat Freedman for getting us more involved in cooking for 'the cause'. After meeting them at last year's Long Island Rocking Chili Cook Off we were hooked. Their enthusiasm for all things chili is quite a sight to behold. The way the NERCC turned out so great is testament to their dedication. Of course, they make it look easy, but they put in A LOT of work, hat tip to you both.
Two more faces we are getting to know are Audrey & Steve Falkowski. We also met them at the Rockin' Chili and more recently when we were at the NYC Cook Off in Staten Island. Wow, these two people are very much into chili and it shows in the professional way they go about the 'business' of chili! Bravo to you both!
Now, as for the cook off itself, WOW what a great event to be a part of! The shear number of teams competing in all categories was much larger than we had anticipated. Red, Verde, Salsa & People's Choice! This was only the second time Team Gad~Zukes had competed in all four categories and I will be the first to admit, what a RUSH! Get your tent set, get your tables and tools set, get ready, Fire Up Those Stoves. Love It!
The day started off with sunny skies, warm temps and excitement in the air. As the chili began to heat up the aroma which wafted around the booths was incredible. All the differing meats, veggies, spices all melding together into the sweet smell of chili cooking in the great outdoors!
Throughout the day the sun shone and the crowds were very enthusiastic. Everyone we met was enjoying a perfect spring day and some of the best chili ever cooked. As the day sizzled on the skies darkened a bit, then opened up. The rains came and went rather quickly and were not enough to 'dampen' the spirits of the crowd or the cooks. As quickly as it started, the rains moved on and the cooking and eating continued.
All in all it was a spectacular day! I would like to ask everyone, if you see an ICS Chili Cook Off in your area, head on down and have yourself a great time. Not only will you be meeting some of the friendliest folks ever, you will be supporting a local charity as well. That's right, all this fun and food does have a superb side benefit. Worthy charities are well taken care of through your enjoyment of 'a cup of red'! The NERCC was speeding the love to two such organizations, the Somers, CT Fire Department and the Patriot Guard Riders!
Yep, Chili Folks Are Great Folks!
Now, let's head to the winner's circle!
Best Booth - Reading (MA) Hot Chili Peppers (Firefighters)
People’s Choice – Alison and Mario Sacciccio CT
“Jim Heywood Yute division” – Max Tankis
1st Place - Wendy Hennesey – NH
Wendy will be representing the New England Regional at the 2011 WCCC
(her first time going to the WCCC)
2nd - Fran Bergami - CT
3rd - Jason Frechette - CT
1st Place - Steven Stark - MA
Steven will be representing the New England Regional at the 2011 WCCC
(his first time going to the WCCC)
2nd place - Mike Scranton - NJ
3rd Place - Linda McGrath - CT
1st Place - Judi Omerza - PA
Judi will be representing the New England Regional at the 2011 WCCC
2nd Bob Hall - IL
3rd Patrick Sweeney - CT
4th Marc Frechette - CT
Thank you for taking the time to read about this super event, see you on the Chili Trail!
|Team Gad ~ Zukes Gets Cookin'|
|Presenting The Colors|
|Big Jim & Uncle Mike|
|Booths Of All Shapes & Sizes|
|Miss Connecticut Stopped By|
|Drawing A Crowd|
|Booth Decorating Was An Artform|
|Wild Coyote Hot Sauce|
|The Eats Kept On Comin'|
|The Higher Ground Band Rocked|
|Hey, It's FUMBLES The Clown (on the left)|
|Ominous Skies Did Not Stop The Awards|
|Mad Mike Being Mad Mike|
|The Lovely & Gracious Judi Omerza - Red Chili Champ|