Chili made with ground beef, sausage and chocolate was a recipe for success for Catherine, 81, and Edward Zawadski, 76, at the inaugural Chili Cook-Off at the Clovis Point Winery in Jamesport.
“The chocolate brings out everything. It makes the chili taste better,” Zawadski said.
The other ingredients in the Selden couple’s chili included sweet onions, green peppers and Clovis Merlot Wine.
Saturday's chili cook-off, sponsored by the winery, comprised eight amateurs and four professionals.
The prize included six bottles of their choice from the Clovis Point Winery. The chilis showcased recipes including venison, beef, pork and duck.
The Zawadskis won as amateur chefs. The other winner was professional chef Lia Fallon, of Amarelle in Wading River for her duck and andouille chili.
The cost of the chili cook-off for attendees was $20 which included the taste of 12 types of chili and one glass of the 2005 Clovis Point Merlot. Each attendee was given a survey sheet rating the chili from one to 10 points.
The event raised $1,500 and the proceeds were donated to the Group for the East End, an educational and advocacy organization that works to protect and restore the environment of the East End.
The organization submitted sustainable chili.
“It’s a smoky Tex-Mex vegetarian chili,” said Judy Christup, director of development for the Group for the East End.
Clovis Point Winery Owner Hal Ginsburg was thrilled with the response to the cook off.
“I am excited about this,” he said. “There are a lot of interesting chilis to eat like venison and duck.”
Ginsburg started the event because there is no better time to enjoy a hot bowl of chili than the winter.
“It’s the right time of year. People like to eat chili when it’s cold,” he said.
Ginsburg also appreciates the work that the Group for the East End provides.
“I like what they stand for. We can’t have a vineyard out here unless we protect the land,” said Ginsburg.
Every competitor at the chili cook-off had their own way of preparing chili.
Phil Braddock, 53, of Peconic, decided that venison was the best choice for his.
“I have property in Connecticut and the venison is everywhere,” Braddock said. “I used four and a half pounds of venison, five pounds of red beans, 2005 Clovis Merlot, mushrooms, peppers and chili powder.”
Christopher Augusta, 61, of Peconic, used country rib and a four pepper blend in his chili recipe.
“I top it off with a margarita crème. It has a sweet savory taste,” he said.
Shari Berkowitz, 48, of Bayside, entered her vegetarian chili made with cheesy sweet cornbread, vegetables and beans.
“Vegetarian foods can often be uninteresting so I thought I would make vegetarian chili and show people how good vegetarian food can taste,” Berkowitz said.
Hundreds tasted the chilis while sipping Clovis wine.
Don Caetano, of Hicksville was eager to taste test the chilis.
“The fact that the winery is having this chili cook off is awesome,” he said.