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Chili cookoff

Triple Nickel brings heat

Published: 02:29PM February 27th, 2014
Triple Nickel brings heat

Dean Siemon/Northwest Guardian

JBLM deputy fire chief James Elways, left, and fire chief Ken Rhault were among the judges who graded 10 chili recipes during the third annual 555th Engr. Bde. Chili Cook-Off Feb. 19 at the AFC Arena on Lewis Main.

When Sgt. Steve Sersha heard the 555th Engineer Brigade’s third annual Chili Cook-Off Feb. 19 requested participants to “bring the heat,” he took that as a personal challenge.

As one of 10 entries who brought their recipes to the AFC Arena on Lewis Main, his chili included the “Trinidad’s finest peppers” — Trinidad Morunga Scorpion peppers, known for being one of the hottest peppers in the world (at 2 million Scoville heat units).

“I don’t recommend ... small children try it,” Sersha said. “It’s very spicy.”

Sersha’s chili was one of a variety of chili brought in front of seven judges, including JBLM Fire Chief Ken Rhault and Deputy Fire Chief James Elways, and representatives of the Washington Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion in Lacey.

Aside from the spice, some chili had different consistencies, flavors, amounts of meat and the lack thereof in the vegetarian chili entry.

While Sersha’s heated concoction won the popular vote from Soldiers and family members, the judges selected Capt. Nathan Magee’s unique chili combination of salsa, Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and enchilada sauce.

“It wasn’t too hot and it had the right amount of kick to it,” said Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Woods, joint base senior enlisted advisor and one of the cook-off judges.

Military spouse Debbie Hoffman won second place with a secret slow-cooked recipe, followed by Sgt. Jason Bowman’s medium-heat chili.

Submissions were judged based on consistency, taste, flavor and spice. Some entries had the standard ingredients of beans, meat and peppers. Others went away from tradition by adding an extra level of flavor, like the beer-based chili made by Sgt. 1st Class Bradley Cloutier and his wife, Laura.

Instead of using water as a base, Cloutier used beer for his favorite meal while watching football on Sundays. While he didn’t win the cook-off, he said it was interesting to see what other people thought of his chili.

“Usually it’s just (Laura) and I who eat it,” Cloutier said.

Within the friendly competition, the service members of the Triple Nickel also met with the VFW and American Legion representatives and the unit’s family readiness group as a way to reintroduce those just returning from deployment to life within the JBLM community.

“We try to leverage all of the MWR facilities, passing information about our programs and have fun,” Magee said.