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The spice of life

Local winners advance to DC101’s annual chili cook-off

Created date

November 26th, 2013

Recently, the professional chefs at Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va., joined a group of aspiring home chefs in the community s first annual chili cook-off. The highly anticipated event welcomed both meat and meatless chili creations created by community chefs and residents. The professional chef and resident each named Best in Show won spots in the May 2014 DC101 Chili Cook-Off, in Washington, D.C. I enjoyed taking part in such a fun event, says Chef Robbina Osei-Owusu. I often make chili for friends when they come over to watch football. It was fun to share that recipe with the residents and my colleagues.

Sharing their secrets

With the enticing aromas of warm chili filling the halls, the cook-off drew hundreds of residents and staff members to the Hunters Crossing conference center. Guests enjoyed tasting eight different recipes created by the chefs and accompanied by an array of hot dogs and cornbread. Due to Health Department regulations, the resident competitors were unable to share their chili with other residents, but each chili was tasted by a panel of distinguished judges, including Chef Robert Reffell, the executive chef at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va. While tasting the chef-prepared chili, guests enjoyed another treat a performance by Greenspring s square dancers and a blue-grass band. We invited our volunteer caller, Butch Adams, to the event, says square dancer Fred Griffin. In return for his work, he was able to enjoy all the chili he could eat.

And the winner is

After all the chili was taste-tested, Clint Lambert and Chef Eric Phipps each received the most votes, taking home the best in show titles for their categories. As a special surprise,NBC News Washingtonanchor Angie Goff announced the winners. Twelve years ago, Goff interned at Greenspring s in-house TV studio. She wrote about her experience at the cook-off and posted pictures on her blog, It was a huge honor to be invited back to emcee the annual chili cook-off, Goff says. The people were so amazing and the food delicious!

First time at the plate

Winning best in show for the resident category came as a complete surprise to Clint. I never entered a cook-off of any kind, but when I heard about the chili competition, I thought it sounded like a fun experience, he says. It was also an opportunity to try something new. That s one of the nice things about living at Greenspring. I was very surprised to win best in show. I ve now received more recognition than I ever thought I would for my limited cooking abilities. Clint s chili is a family favorite and unlike any chili he says he s ever tasted. I call it Naughty and Nice because it has a little kick and is sweetened with Splenda at just the right moment, he says. That spiciness is important, says Phipps, who won best in show for the chefs. You don t want chili to be overbearing, just spicy enough to give you a little kick in the back of your throat.

Exciting opportunity

As the top winners at the cook-off, both Clint and Phipps will put their culinary skills to the test this May at the 34th Annual DC101 Chili Cook-Off. The event supports the National Kidney Foundation, in Washington, D.C. Last year, attendance at the popular event reached a record-breaking 31,000 people and raised more than $1.3 million to fight kidney disease in the region. Celebrity judges will judge the intense competition, where the cooks will compete in four categories: red chili, green chili, freestyle, and salsa. I think the cook-off will be fun and truly a new experience for me, says Clint. Our executive chef has assured me that he will provide me guidance and support. My neighbors are also complimentary and ask when they can taste my chili. I tell them I look forward to them doing so at the DC101 cook-off. Maybe I will surprise myself and win again. You never know if you don t try.