Hospital Chili Cook-Off yields great recipes


By Bill Colvard - [email protected]



Daniel Combs, RN, BSN, CEN, NREMT-P, emergency department coordinator, was the winner of Northern Hospital’s Chili Cook-off.


Submitted photo | Northern Hospital

William Hoosier with his White Chicken Chili.


Bill Colvard | The News

A group of Northern employees were among the cooks who entered chili in the competition. From left, William Hoosier, Renatha Oliver, Kelly Capece and Rhonda Christenson.


Bill Colvard | The News

Kelly Capece gives her New Mexico green chili a stir.


Bill Colvard | The News

Maddie Woods awaits voters to sample her chili.


Bill Colvard | The News

Renatha Oliver and her famous Oliver Chili, a popular favorite.


Bill Colvard | The News

It took two years, but this month Northern Hospital finally hosted its first Chili Cook-Off for employees.

When all the votes were cast and tallied, Daniel Combs, emergency room coordinator, was the grand prize winner. Along with bragging rights, Combs was awarded a trophy and a small monetary prize.

“In the past, the hospital has had a bake-off and a cobbler contest,” said Ashly Lancaster, marketing and communications director for Northern Hospital and Northern Medical Group. “We’ve been considering a chili cook-off for about two years, and the time finally seemed right to do it. There’s been talk of soups and casseroles as possible future competitions, but nothing has been decided yet.”

Lancaster adds that everybody likes food and a lot of the hospital staff enjoy cooking, so these cooking contests offer a good opportunity for employee engagement. It gives everyone a reason to come to the cafeteria, taste the entries, then sit around and chat about them.

When the call for entries went out to hospital staff, 33 people signed up. Ultimately, 19 chilis were brought for judging. The chilis were then sampled by the staff who voted on their favorite. Judging responsibility was taken seriously, with one judge taking samples in batches of six, picking a winner for that group and repeating until all chilis were tasted. He then picked a grand prize winner from the first round winner. Other folks were a little less methodical but equally serious about their duty as judges.

There was no theme or categories for the cook-off. The competition was wide open and most of the chilis were traditional. Others took a more modern approach. Lancaster says that she went for something lighter and used a lot of vegetables in her chili instead of beans.

William Hoosier made a white chili with chicken and white beans, utilizing chicken broth as a base instead of tomatoes. Kelly Capece made a pork chili in the New Mexico style, with green Hatch chilis. But in the end, voters chose Daniel Combs’ traditional blend of sausage, beef and beans as the winner.

With more than one person winding up with chili on their shirt before the day was done, Lancaster considered the event a success. She notes that she was among the chili-stained, at which point she laughed and said, “Everything in moderation. That’s our mantra around here.”

Following is a sampling of some recipes from Northern’s Chili Cook-Off, including the winning recipe. Try them yourself. They are all excellent.

Winning Chili

Daniel Combs, Emergency Department Coordinator

1 pound of sausage

1 pound of hamburger

2 packs of taco powder or chili powder (I used 1 of each.)

½-1 Vidalia onion, diced

1 can of Sloppy Joe mix

2 cans of chili beans

2 cans of dark red kidney beans

2 cans of Northern beans

2 cans of pinto beans

¼ to ½ cup of molasses

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Smoke house seasoning

Seasoning salt

Cook sausage first. Do not drain grease after sausage begins cooking. Add vidalia onions and hamburger, then mix with sausage. Add taco/chili powder after meat is cooked thoroughly, adding water as directed by package. (I think I used 1 cup.) Add Sloppy Joe mix after powder is absorbed. After meat is cooked thoroughly, place in crock pot and begin cooking on low to medium heat, adding beans first while stirring often. I do not drain beans unless needed, then add molasses and further season to taste with the Worcestershire sauce, Smoke house seasoning and Seasoning salt. Once everything is cooked thoroughly, turn crock pot to warm, stir often and enjoy.

Oliver Chili

Renatha Oliver

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp. oil

1-1/2 cups diced onion

1/2 cup diced celery

1-1/2 cups diced carrots

4 tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne (add more to make spicier)

4 cups diced zucchini

1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup Chipotle BBQ sauce (add more as needed to enhance flavor)

In your skillet or 5-6 quart pot, brown beef and garlic. Cook over medium heat until beef is thoroughly cooked and brown. Drain off excess fat. Set aside. Add oil, onions, celery, carrots; cook until radiant over medium high heat, about 5-7 minutes. Once onions are golden and veggies are halfway cooked, add zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Make sure you stir well. Add cooked beef, tomato Sauce, diced tomatoes, chipotle BBQ sauce and all other seasoning; stir well. Bring everything to a boil, and stir frequently. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes.

Serves about 10.

New Mexico Green Chili

Kelly Capece

1-1/2 lbs. pork

1 large onion, chopped

3 cups chicken broth

1 large carrot, sliced

2 potatoes, diced

2 (4 oz.) cans Hatch green chilis, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 (8 oz.) can diced tomatoes

Roll pork pieces in flour. Saute onion and garlic in soup pan until translucent. Toss in pork and brown. Throw in broth. Bring to boil for 30 minutes. When pork is tender, add all other ingredients. Cook 20-30 minutes. Serve with flour tortillas. Top with cheddar cheese.

White Chicken Chili

William Hoosier

2 whole chicken breasts

2 (14.5 oz.) cans Navy beans

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1-1/2 tbsp. salt

l tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. cumin

1-1/2 tsp. chili powder

4 cups chicken broth

Swiss and pepper Jack cheese, 6 slices each

1/2 cup flour

3 tbsp. oil

4 cups milk

Cooking directions:

In a pot, put chicken breasts in boiling water for 30 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. (Add a pinch of salt to the water with the chicken). Drain the water from the chicken run chicken under cold water until you can touch it, then shred chicken by hand and set aside. In a pot over medium heat, sauté onion, red and green bell pepper, let cook for 3 minutes, then add garlic. Cook another 2 minutes, then add cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper, and chicken. Stir and add chicken broth. Let broth come to a boil, then add cheese. Stir until melted. Turn the heat down to low. Then in a bowl, mix flour and oil. Add the flour mix to the soup and mix well (no lumps) with the a whisk and them add milk and simmer for 15 minutes, until thick. Don’t let the milk boil. Serve hot.

Makes 6-10 servings.

Daniel Combs, RN, BSN, CEN, NREMT-P, emergency department coordinator, was the winner of Northern Hospital’s Chili Cook-off.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/web1_Chili-Dan-Combs-winner.jpgDaniel Combs, RN, BSN, CEN, NREMT-P, emergency department coordinator, was the winner of Northern Hospital’s Chili Cook-off. Submitted photo | Northern Hospital

William Hoosier with his White Chicken Chili.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/web1_Chili-William.jpgWilliam Hoosier with his White Chicken Chili. Bill Colvard | The News

A group of Northern employees were among the cooks who entered chili in the competition. From left, William Hoosier, Renatha Oliver, Kelly Capece and Rhonda Christenson.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/web1_Chili-group.jpgA group of Northern employees were among the cooks who entered chili in the competition. From left, William Hoosier, Renatha Oliver, Kelly Capece and Rhonda Christenson. Bill Colvard | The News

Kelly Capece gives her New Mexico green chili a stir.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/web1_Chili-Kelly.jpgKelly Capece gives her New Mexico green chili a stir. Bill Colvard | The News

Maddie Woods awaits voters to sample her chili.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/web1_Chili-Maddie.jpgMaddie Woods awaits voters to sample her chili. Bill Colvard | The News

Renatha Oliver and her famous Oliver Chili, a popular favorite.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/web1_Chili-Oliver.jpgRenatha Oliver and her famous Oliver Chili, a popular favorite. Bill Colvard | The News

By Bill Colvard

[email protected]

Nominate your favorite cook to share their love of food with readers of The Mount Airy News.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.

Nominate your favorite cook to share their love of food with readers of The Mount Airy News.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.

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