Chili cook-off fosters camaraderie and competition

“Look at that. See that red?”

The maintenance craftsman pointed at two drops of homemade hot sauce on his fingertip and said with a smile, “That will kill you.”

His pride in the hot sauce that makes grown men turn red, sweat and cry, is only one reason the Office of School Plant Services hosted a chili cook-off for the second year in a row – and this time in partnership with the Office of Facilities Services.

chili cookoff 1

“It’s important to have an event like this because it bring the shops together,” said Eric Woodhouse, director of school plant. “Events like this are one of the only opportunities they have to get to know each other and interact.”

Woodhouse, only one month on the job in school plant, couldn’t help but smile at the long line of men and women waiting for a hot bowl of homemade chili.

“Actually, I’m shocked there are so many people. I didn’t expect it to be this big,” he remarked.

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Hosting similar all-staff events and involving retirees to participate and share lessons learned, is what Woodhouse plans to have happen moving forward.

“We’re trying to build a team and build a family,” he said.

In the short term, the teams in the offices of school plant and facilities services are just trying to build a recipe for winning chili.

Only 12 entries were judged, even though each shop prepared multiple pots of chili and additional dishes like gumbo and meatballs.

Kenny Evans, general maintenance supervisor who established the event last year after seeing each shop had separate winter holiday parties, explained the process.

“What happens is every shop submits three to four pots of chili, and then within that shop they pick the one they want judged upstairs,” he said.

“It brings them together. It’s team building,” Evans added. “If you can get 20 guys to agree on one pot of chili, you’re doing pretty good.”

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Wendell Jenkins, general maintenance coordinator, noted one other consideration for the competition.

“The ones that are super hot, we didn’t try to put in for judging this year,” he said. “There was one last year that was literally ridiculous. One guy immediately started sweating and turned red.”

We heard. Hot enough to kill you.

Congratulations to the following teams for their award-winning chili:

  • First Place: Electrical shop
  • Second Place: Facilities Planning and Construction (office staff)
  • Third Place: HVAC shop

The winning teams received gift cards as well as plaques made in one of the school plant shops.

“There isn’t much we don’t make,” said Evans.

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2 thoughts on “Chili cook-off fosters camaraderie and competition

  1. I do take pride when making my hot sauce, like the old BRYLCREAM commercials said: ” Just A Little Dab Will Do Ya”

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