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Teamwork to the test

Chili cook-off draws a crowd

Created date

November 25th, 2015
Resident Darlyne Sheppeard, staff member and chili pepper for the day Cara Freed, and residents Sharad Gavankar and Les Woerther, tasters at the first annual chili cook-off.
Chili Cook-off participants

A simmering pot of homemade chili will warm up any occasion, which was evident earlier this year when teams of Tallgrass Creek staff members competed in a spirited chili cook-off. As the deciding voters, residents and staff alike flocked to the community’s Sunflower room to taste the 13 crockpots of chili, each representing a different department at Tallgrass Creek.  

“It was a tough contest,” says Anne Kyle, one of about 175 residents who tasted and voted for their favorite chili. “I’ve never seen that many different kinds of chili together in one place. They were all delicious.”  

Recipe for success

The chili cook-off was sponsored by Tallgrass Creek’s Erickson Living values team, which, along with Erickson Living, the developer and manager of Tallgrass Creek, celebrates the positive values of respect and caring, friendliness and enthusiasm, diversity, integrity, responsibility, excellence, and teamwork. The team plans to promote the monthly values with a meaningful activity; the chili cook-off honored the spirit of teamwork. 

“Great chili requires good ingredients that all work together,” says Cara Freed, a member of the values team and assisted living manager at Tallgrass Creek’s continuing care neighborhood. “The cook-off symbolized teamwork by encouraging department staff members to come together as a team and put their ideas together to make a winning chili.”

Each department team’s recipe featured a special ingredient that made their chili unique. Whether it was the coffee and cocoa of team salon, the sorghum of team resident life, or the tender turkey meat of team security, each crockpot held a special, tasty surprise. 

Drum roll, please

After much tasting and teasing, the votes were counted and the winning chili award went to team sales and marketing. The team competed with Sales Associate Sue LaBelle’s recipe, a traditional chili she has made for years. Second place honors went to team nursing administration with its special ingredients of liquid smoke and chicken stock, and third place went to team transportation’s yummy, buffalo meat chili. 

“We plan to do this every year in the fall,” says Anita Winter, Tallgrass Creek’s communications manager who oversees the values team and its activities. “It was such fun, and the response from both staff and residents was overwhelming.”