By Rachel Gross Weinstein
Despite Sunday’s chilly weather outside, the community tasted chili that warmed them up inside at the 20th annual Kosher Chili Cook-off at Tiferet Israel Congregation.
Roughly 4,000 people attended the event and a record 52 teams competed, according to Neal Stollon, who co-chaired the cook-off with Ed Jerome. The level of excitement this year and the friendliness among the teams stood out, Stollon added.
“There was wonderful cooperation with everyone and people had fun,” he said. “We had the most number of teams this year and people came piling in until the last minute. We were pleased with the way everything was organized and there was a good vibe throughout the whole event.”
With any successful event comes challenges, but the organizers were able to overcome those. Teams had been scheduled to compete in a turkey-chili category, but miscommunication prevented the cook-off from obtaining enough turkey. The turkey teams switched to beef without a problem, Stollon said.
The buses from the Aaron Family JCC were a success, and people didn’t have to search for parking near the synagogue, he added.
Another highlight of the event was the presence of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who was a judge and also read a proclamation.
“Congratulations for turning 20,” he said. “You do so much for the community and not only for the neighborhood, but for the greater community as a whole. We are blessed to have you in the city of Dallas. Thank you all for giving back to this wonderful community we all live in.”
The winner this year was The Dallas Fighting Maccabees/YJAM, two new organizations in the community. The Dallas Fighting Maccabees is the Jewish Special Olympics teams in the area. YJAM, the Young Jewish Altruist Movement, brings Generation Y together for volunteer work throughout the community.
Rachael Abrams, co-founder of YJAM, cooked the chili and used a special technique: blanching the peppers and adding brown sugar.
“Winning was a complete shock, and it was an honor to be involved in the cook-off,” said Jonathan Tobolowsky, founder of the Dallas Fighting Maccabees. One of the parts he enjoyed the most was the camaraderie with the other teams.
“It’s crazy that we won, and we are over the top about it,” he said. “We couldn’t believe we won, and we are very humbled. This is a great event to bring the entire Jewish community together and a great way for organizations to compete and share in each other’s glory.”
THE WINNERS ARE …
Top honors at Sunday’s Kosher Chili Cook-off
Veggie: Tiferet Israel
Beef: First place: The Dallas Fighting Maccabees/YJAM; second place, tie between the Anti-Defamation League and the Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association; third place, Chabad of Dallas
People’s Choice Award: Moishe House