Chili cook-off heats up Clark |

Chili cook-off heats up Clark

Annual chili contest, charter school benefit draws more than 300

Mike Lawrence

— Give it up for Chris King and melted Velveeta cheese, Routt County.

King, longtime organizer of the Great North Routt Chili Cook-off and a community fixture at the Clark Store, took second place in the "other" category at Sunday's cook-off, the eighth iteration of the event. His "Loco Pollo II, Bachelor Bomb, Super Bowl Show-up Chili," featuring onions, peppers and chicken in the orange cheese melted to a bisque-style consistency, earned King his first ribbon in the annual benefit for North Routt Community Charter School.

"I finally placed," King told the crowd, drawing laughs and cheers after reading his own name off the winners' list. "Eight years, and I placed."

Event organizer and former charter school board member Erick Knaus said Sunday's cook-off drew at least 315 people, who lined Routt County Road 129 with vehicles and filled the Glen Eden Family Restaurant & Tavern to overflowing.

"I think it's the (recent) ugly weather — everybody's ready to get out and do something," said Jack White, president of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley.

White noted that Sunday's skies cleared over Clark, making a fine afternoon to sample from about 75 chili entries and about 40 dessert entries.

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George Trujillo, of Yampa, continued his dominance of local chili contests by taking first place in the green chili category. It was his fourth first-place award at the North Routt event. Asked what goes into his "Flat Tops Green Chili," Trujillo admitted only to pork, chili peppers and garlic, saying it's "Mom's recipe." He plans to compete in chili cook-offs in Breckenridge and Cheyenne, Wyo., next month, continuing his efforts for a victory on the International Chili Society circuit.

Dave Schwanke won the red chili category with his "Crown Special" blend.

Clark resident Lori Raper won the deliciously high-caliber dessert category with her peach crisp, beating out the second-place finisher by just one point. The highest possible score Sunday was 108 points.

Nine-year-old Aden Knaus, Erick Knaus' son, took first place in the "other" category with his Swedish meatballs. King said Aden was only the second youth in the cook-off's history to win a ribbon. Aden earned a commemorative ladle for his efforts.

"He was complaining this morning that he didn't have them spicy enough," Erick Knaus said about Aden's work in the kitchen. "He's got the house bragging rights for a year."

Bragging rights also were the most valuable prize for Scott Lewer, who tied for second place in the red chili category with his "Champion Broncos Chili." Lewer said his recipe includes steak, bacon and hamburger, along with cayenne, jalapeno and habanero peppers, topped off with "a few secret things." Lewer said taking a ribbon really meant one thing.

"Just the fact that I can talk to other guys and say, 'Yeah, I did OK in the contest,'" he said with a grin.

Steph Mosser, of the Glen Eden Resort, had a simple explanation for the name of her second-place-winning "Yum Yum Yum" green chili.

"The 4-H pig I bought last year, his name was Yum Yum," she said.

Erick Knaus downplayed the fundraising nature of Sunday's event, saying organizers understood the recession's affects on local families and were more intent on simply keeping the annual tradition alive. He said charter school leaders expect to learn in July whether they receive a Building Excellent Schools Today grant for more than $3 million, a crucial part of ongoing efforts to raise funds for a new, 12,600-square-foot charter school.

Judging by the size and spirit of Sunday's crowd, the charter school's coffers likely got a boost regardless of the recession. King brushed off the notion that his efforts helped fuel the attendance.

"The thing is, I'm not trying to sell a toilet or encyclopedias," King said. "I'm pushing a party. It's a whole different world, man."

Cook-off winners

■ Green Chili

1st place — George Trujillo, “Flat Tops Green Chili”

2nd place — Steph Mosser, “Yum Yum Yum”

3rd place — Rebecca Fix, “Pike’s Green Love”

■ Red Chili

1st place — Dave Schwanke, “Crown Special”

2nd place (tie) — Jake Carlson, “Not so Janky”

2nd place (tie) — Scott Lewer, “Champion Broncos Chili”

■ Other

1st place — Aden Knaus, Swedish meatballs

2nd place — Chris King, “Loco Pollo II, Bachelor Bomb, Super Bowl Show-up Chili”

3rd place — Bill Schlingman, “Alder’s Smoky Mountain Chili”

■ Dessert

1st place — Lori Raper, peach crisp

2nd place — Dan Bubenheim, chocolate carrot cake

3rd place (tie) — Kelly Bedell

3rd place (tie) — Adele Carlson, for either her apple pie or Black Forest cherry tort

3rd place (tie) — Lisa Larkin

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