Flavor at the forefront for chili contest

May 14, 2024

Variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes. 

It’s also essential for a good chili, according to the chefs and the critics at the Onset Bay Association’s mostly annual chili contest. 

Bob Costello brought his “Official Carver Chili,” with pulled pork, ground beef and some craisins for the Carver touch. 

“I make it sweet,” Costello said. “You can always add heat to it, you can’t make it less hot.”

The most important part of making a good chili, he said, is to “put a lot of effort into it.” Cooking the pulled pork alone took eight hours, he said. 

Rose Kowalski-Haronkiewcz, who attended the event in an apron that said ‘Careful I’m spicy,’ had different priorities. 

“Spiciness!” she said. “I like spicy.”

While Kowalski-Haronkiewcz couldn’t divulge the secrets behind her recipe, “Everyone seems to like it in my family and friends,” she said. 

Lori Benson and her son Jordan brought a sweet potato chili to the event, which they said was the only vegetable chili there. 

Lori said it was important to get the heat right, so that the chili is “not super hot” but “has a kick to it.”

For Jordan, “getting the consistency right” is the most important part of the process. 

Tasters mingled among the tables, trying all the different flavors of chili brought to the contest. 

One group of attendees had varied answers when asked what they looked for in a chili. 

Jen Kreamer said she liked her chili “not too spicy.”

“I like it pretty spicy,” said Patty White. 

Tim Hudyuncia said he preferred a chili that’s “not too salty.”

“The bouquet — to me, that’s what it’s all about,” said Hudyuncia. 

They agreed that the variety of chili at the event was a plus. 

“What I like is that they’re all distinctly different,” said Kreamer.