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Turning Up the Heat: 20 restaurants compete in second-annual Chili Cook-off 

Chili is a simple dish combining beans, meat and spices. Yet it seems that everyone from most grandmothers to every man who's ever watched a football game has the ultimate chili recipe.

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Chili is a simple dish combining beans, meat and spices. Yet it seems that everyone from most grandmothers to every man who's ever watched a football game has the ultimate chili recipe. This, in my humble opinion, is why a chili cook-off is the world's great equalizer. No matter your reputation as a chef, no one can deny the secret spice mix you've got up your sleeves.


Twenty Bend restaurants will pull out all the stops for The Education Foundation's 2nd Annual Chili Cook-off on Sunday, January 23 at the Athletic Club of Bend. The lineup includes many of Bend's top restaurants, including Ariana, 10 Below, Zydeco, Hola and Scanlon's, and organizers are expecting a few hundred attendees. Let's hope the Athletic Club has adequate facilities.

The cook-off was started last year when Kip Heilman, general manager at the Athletic Club of Bend, decided to facilitate an event that benefited the Education Foundation, providing funds for children who can't afford pay-to-play sports. Last year, the cook-off raised $3,000 for the cause.

"This year, we're hoping to triple that," said Cheri Helt, who's on the board of the Education Foundation for the Bend-La Pine schools. This year, Sysco is donating the proteins for the chefs to work with, which include pork, beef, buffalo and elk. Judging will be blind and the restaurants will be chasing front-runner, Joolz, who took the prize last year with an elk tabouleh chili.

Skjersaas will also be featuring a rail jam from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Athletic Club courtyard. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids six to 11, and kids five and under are free.

Cascade Lakes is donating beer and Earth2o is donating water to "put out the fires," says Helt.

I personally can't wait to see the difference in each chef's recipe. And I know a few football fans who will also have an opinion or two about what makes a good chili. Bring on the beans.

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