The Mohawk Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross will give local taste buds an extra kick when it spices up the month of February with its Chili Challenge.
The 11th annual event will take place from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 10, at Francesca’s Banquets & Catering in Ilion and will once again feature professional chefs and amateur cooks battling it out to determine who has the best chili in the Mohawk Valley.
Usually taking place the Sunday after the Super Bowl, the Chili Challenge has regularly attracted more than 300 people who are looking for a tasty way to stay warm in the middle of winter.
“No football, no problem. The Chili Challenge is a great way to spend the Sunday between the Super Bowl and school break,” said Jennifer Balog, community chapter executive for the Mohawk Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. “This is a fun event that helps us with our serious mission of providing comfort to the people who need it most throughout the Mohawk Valley.”
The competition will include a Restaurant League and an Amateur League, with award categories in each league, including People’s Choice, Most Unique, Best Presentation and Hottest in the Restaurant League and People’s Choice and Most Creative in the Amateur League. The family-friendly event will also include a 50/50 raffle, a beer tasting and entertainment and music by DJ Kenny the Promo Guy.
Balog said as of Tuesday the competitors included Dominick’s Deli, Froggy’s Take-Out, Heidelberg Café, PK’s Pub and Salvatore’s Sorrento in the Restaurant League, and Assemblyman Marc Butler, the Central New York Labor Agency’s Frank “Rusty” Brown, Herkimer County Sheriff Christopher Farber, Markus Neckerman, Matt Powers and the Kuyahoora Valley Ambulance Corps in the Amateur League.
She added as in years past, visitors will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite chili.
“This event is one of the Mohawk Valley Chapter’s top fundraisers. Proceeds will help provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies,” said Balog.
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012, Balog said the Mohawk Valley Chapter assisted 137 families affected by disasters, provided 228 emergency communications to members of the Armed Forces and their families and trained 16,997 individuals in CPR, first aid and other health and safety courses in Herkimer, Oneida and Otsego counties. She added working families in the Mohawk Valley often require emergency assistance from home fires, flooding and other disasters.
Tickets are $10, with children 12 years of age and younger admitted free. Tickets are available by contacting the Mohawk Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross at 733-4666 and at Francesca’s at 144 E. Main St. in Ilion. Tickets will also be available at participating restaurants closer to the event.