The courtyard at the Water Street Market on Main Street in New Paltz will host the eighth annual Local Ingredient Chili Challenge fundraiser this Saturday, January 23 from 12 noon to 3 p.m. Those visiting the marketplace can sample a 3.25-ounce portion of chili for the price of one ticket, with all proceeds benefiting St. Joseph’s non-denominational Food Pantry.
“The organization feeds hundreds of local families each year, with donations sometimes falling off the radar once the holiday season is over. But the need remains no matter what time of year. One of our judges last year offered to match what we raised, so we were able to donate more than $2,000 to the Food Pantry,” says community event organizer Theresa Fall, who also owns the popular and cozy wine bar Jar’d. That same anonymous judge has offered to donate matching funds after this Saturday’s competition.
So who will be making the chili? Professional and home chefs (who make use of a commercial kitchen to prepare their chili) are welcome to apply to compete in the challenge, with up to 25 applicants accepted. There is no cost to enter the competition, but participants must commit to donating at least three gallons of their best chili – preferably more, as the supply tends to run out before the end of the event – and they need to be there for the duration to dish it out to the hungry throngs of chili fans who attend every year.
And since the event is intended to promote local sustainability along with raising funds for the Food Pantry, the chili must contain at least five local ingredients sourced or grown in the area. The ingredients can be the basis for the chili – beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions, turkey or beef – or those extras that give a chili a unique kick, like locally produced honey or craft beer. The more local ingredients used, the more weight that it carries with the judges for the competition part of the event. A panel of judges will choose a first- and second-place winner in five categories: Best Overall, Best Vegetarian, Best Professional (made by a restaurant or professional chef), People’s Choice and Most Original. Winners receive bragging rights.
Tickets for chili cost $1, or six tickets for $5, twelve for $10 or 25 for $20. The Water Street Market will provide the two-ounce portion cups and spoons for the event. And several local businesses are offering participants a discount to purchase ingredients to make their chilis, including the Gilded Otter’s 15 percent discount off any of its beer and the In Good Taste Spirit Shop’s 15 percent discount off spirits.
Fall came up with the idea to hold the Local Ingredient Chili Challenge eight years ago after taking over as events planner at the Water Street Market. Searching for a fun winter event to hold outdoors, the organizing committee also wanted something that would have some meaning to it – something that would raise money for a good cause and promote sustainability, too. So the idea of a chili challenge was merged with the idea of sourcing food locally. “And people are really taking it to the next level,” says Fall. “They only need five local ingredients, but they get very experimental.”
The Water Street Market is located at 10 Main Street in New Paltz. For more information, visit https://www.waterstreetmarket.