44 teams vying to become 24th winner during March 19 event
By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP
The world’s best kosher chili is going to be crowned this Sunday, March 19 on the campus of Congregation Tiferet Israel.
It’s a bold claim, but now in its 24th year, the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off has developed a history and consistently delivers the tastiest and best kosher chili to more than 4,000 in attendance.
The cook-off started in 1994 with 10 teams and has grown into a must-attend event for the local Jewish community. There are now more than 30 sponsors for the event, including the title sponsors for this year, Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC (locally known as Prescott Pailet Benefits) and Key-Whitman Eye Center.
Dan Prescott, along with Mark Kleinman and Jack Baum, established the Kosher Chili Cook-Off in 1994.
“We were looking for a simple family event that would bring the entire Jewish community together. It is amazing how it has grown into an event that has become recognized on a national and international level,” Prescott said. “And now, along with my partners — my brother, Stuart Prescott and Kevin Pailet, and longtime friend Dr. Jeff Whitman — we are proud to serve as the title sponsors at this 24th anniversary of the cook-off.”
Forty-four teams have entered the competition this year, and more than 4,000 people are expected to attend the event Sunday. Gates will open at 10:30 a.m. and winners will be announced around 3 p.m. with prizes for the top-three beef entries and top-two veggie entries handed out by a panel of seven judges.
“It really is a difficult competition to judge,” Ed Jerome said. “Between all the teams and all the chili, it’s hard to pick out a winner. But the winner really is the best kosher chili in the world.”
There is also a people’s choice award, which is voted upon the attendants who will have a chance to taste all the different recipes.
Tickets are $12 for adults, while tickets are $6 for children aged 4 through 10. Parking and shuttles will be set up at the Dallas Jewish Community Center to help ease the traffic flow.
The sponsors help cover the majority of the costs, which helps organizers raise money for local nonprofit charities. This year the cook-off proceeds will be shared with the Assist the Officer Foundation and Jewish Community Center Camp Scholarships fund.
Assist the Officer provides financial assistance for police officers who have lost work or are out of work due to serious injury or another catastrophic event. JCC Camp Scholarships help children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend camp take part in the summer camps.
“Regardless of how hot anyone’s chili recipe may be, it warms my heart even more to see our community coming together in unity and friendship sharing a common goal like the Kosher Chili Cook-off and helping local charities,” Rabbi Shawn Zell of Tiferet Israel said in a press release.
Royal Lane Baptist Church will also be on-site working with Tiferet Israel on a food drive for the North Texas Food Bank at Jewish Family Services.
While the chili and charity is the main attraction, each year organizers add new elements to the event.
On Sunday, Dallas Fire and Rescue will be on-site with their Fire Safety House, a mobile house that teaches and promotes fire safety for kids. The Home Depot is setting up a station for children to work on supervised wood craft projects.
Representatives from Be The Match will be on-site. Be The Match is an organization that works to cure blood-related cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, and operates the largest bone marrow transplant registry in the world.
The Mazik Brothers band, which volunteers for the event, plays and covers hits from the 1960s through the 1980s, and singing along is always encouraged.
Chef Stephen Erwin is culinary service director for the Reserve North Dallas (previously, Town Village North) and has extensive experience as chef in many Dallas area restaurants and clubs.
David Feder has been a chef in Dallas and Austin, a food writer, and teacher of Food Science and Nutrition at UT Austin. He is currently a full-time journalist, author of The Skinny Carbs Diet Book and executive editor–technical for Prepared Foods/NutraSolutions magazine.
Dotty Griffith, known as “the culinary ambassador of Texas” and an authority on Texas cuisine, is an award-winning journalist, best-selling cookbook author, television-radio personality, and adjunct professor of culinary journalism at The University of North Texas. The former Dallas Morning News critic is the face and voice of True Texas Cuisine (www.truetexascuisine.com).
Chef Danny Hall is executive chef at John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts and has extensive experience as chef in many Dallas area restaurants and clubs.
Chef Michael Mrugala runs the entire kitchen operation for the Olive Garden on Northwest Highway and has extensive experience as chef in many Dallas area restaurants and clubs.
Chef Pete Nolasco is the owner, chef and sculptor of Chef Pete Catering, and was awarded “best caterer in Addison” in 2013. Pete has worked for many years in the Dallas area’s best restaurants and hotels.
Michael Scott is the executive chef and sales manager at Rosewood Texas Wagu Beef in Dallas and, previously, was the executive chef at Northwood Club in Dallas. He has extensive experience as chef in many Dallas area restaurants and clubs and is currently vice president of the World Master Chefs Society.
Adat Chaverim Brotherhood, Akiba Academy, Anti-Defamation League, Bnai Zion, Camp Sabra, Chabad of Plano/Collin County, CHAI/Yachad, Congregation Anshai Torah, Congregation Beth Torah, Congregation Ohev Shalom, Congregation Ohr HaTorah, Congregation Shaare Tefilla, Crystal Creek at Preston Hollow, Dallas Chevra Kadisha, Dallas Holocaust Museum, Dallas Jewish Conservatives, Dallas Jewish Historical Society, Dallas Kosher/Vaad Hakashrus, DATA, Far North Dallas/Richardson Democrats, Hadassah, Hebrew Order of David International, Henry Litoff, Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Kehillat Chaverim, Legacy Senior Communities – Willow Bend, Loncar & Associates, Moishe House, Sephardic Torah Center of Dallas, Shearith Israel Brotherhood, Sparkman Hillcrest, Tamarack Camps, Temple Emanu-El, Temple Shalom, Texans for Education Opportunity, Tiferet Israel, Tom Thumb, Torah Day School, Whole Foods Market, and Yavneh Academy.