The rain broke in time and cool fall temperatures moved in for the annual Caruthersville, Mo Chamber of Commerce Chili Cook -Off on Oct. 19. Teams of chili, wings and dessert cookers took to the streets of downtown Caruthersville to support the Chamber of Commerce and the city.
Amid the smell of chili, were competitors, all hoping to put together the right combination of ingredients to wow the judges. Tonya Rodgers, who was stirring the chili for Focus Bank said that the secret was “in the ingredients.” She said bringing the right combination together at the right time makes a winning chili.
Rosemary Ford, Catherine Donald, and Mae Vinny Johnson of the Bootheel Ladies team said that the most important ingredient is “putting your heart and soul into it.” Donald says that you have to combine the ingredients with “love and part of yourself” to make it taste great. Their booth was also selling smoked sausage and other savory items.
Most teams declined to talk about the secret of good chili, because as the Lord of the Harvest team from First Baptist Church said, “it is that secret in the recipe. To tell would give it away.” Teams from Caruthersville High School, Liberty Utilities Muddy Waters Catering, Prescription Drug Store, Ruby’s Chili Queen, Caruthersville Middle School, O.P.A.A. and Muddy Waters Catering all agreed. Dustin Cutler, from the Wesleyan Church could not be coaxed. “I just can’t give away the secret,” he said.
The group from Liberty Utilities said that the secret was in the “good recipe,” but they just would not budge on the ingredients in that recipe. The team from Prescription Drug Store would not reveal their ingredients but said that the secret to winning was “getting people to eat it.”
Vendors were busy selling crafts, local musicians performed for the audience, and good food was available in abundance. At the end of the day, most of the teams agreed the most important ingredient was family, friends, and enjoying the day with the community.