Firefighters compete for charity at chili cookoff
Unified Fire Authority named its Utah Firefighter Chili Cook-off booth the “Sultry Poultry” because they made their chili with chicken. (Tori La Rue/City Journals)
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By Tori La Rue | firstname.lastname@example.org
Herriman, Utah - Representatives from nearly 15 fire departments brought hundreds of quarts of chili to the South Towne Mall parking lot in Sandy on Sept. 24 to compete in the Fourth Annual Utah Firefighter Chili Cook-off, a fundraiser for the University of Utah Health Care’s Burn Camp.
“As far as I’m concerned, we’re all winning as soon as people buy tickets for chili,” said Jack Gray, a West Jordan resident representing the Ogden Fire Department. “We’re really here for the kids who will benefit from camp.”
At the camp, children, teen and adult burn injury survivors socialize with people in similar circumstances and learn about healing from professional nurses, physical therapists and firefighters.
About 5,0000 people attended the cook-off, and together, the departments raised $12,528 for the Burn Camp, with South Davis Fire Department raising the most at $2,677, West Jordan coming in second at $1,711 and Unified Fire Authority third at $1,304. South Davis also claimed the people’s choice chili with West Jordan coming in second place and West Valley Fire Department in third.
American Fork took the plaque for the booth decorating competition with their old-West, saloon-style booth. West Jordan came in second with their booth that included a 10-foot tall fake fire-hydrant, and the Unified Fire Authority came in third place with the booth that they named the “Sultry Poultry,” which was decorated with a banner, stuffed animal chicken and hay.
“Well, it would be great to win again, but from last year to this year, you have departments who have stepped up their booth and other departments who have made changes to their chili,” Chief Marc McElreath, of the West Jordan Fire Department, said about the competition, adding that his department will make changes next year.
West Jordan won the booth decorating and people’s choice chili awards in 2015 using the recipe of Kent Warner, a firefighter and paramedic on West Jordan’s C platoon. Warner said he was “volun-told” to make the chili for the competition after he made a chili for his co-workers that they liked.
Warner switched up his recipe for this year’s competition by substituting smoked, pulled pork for steak and reducing the spiciness of the chili. Judges commented that they missed the spiciness, so Warner said he plans to add some heat to the West Jordan chili for the 2017 event.
Many departments bring the same chili each year. Unified Fire West Valley brings a red chili and a chili verde, and Unified Fire offers a cashew chicken chili and vegetarian cashew quinoa chili each year.
Shelby Williams, event participant who came to support her brother who works for the West Valley Fire Department, said, setting all bias aside, the West Valley’s chili verde chili was her favorite. She said thought they should have won. Overall, it was an activity that members of her family, no matter what age, could enjoy, she said.
Williams ran around the event with her niece and nephew in the parking lot and lawn area of the South Towne Mall. In addition to the chili cook-off, event-organizers set up games for kids including inflatable slides.
Rob Marriot, of Unified Fire, said he thought the event was a success because it allowed the firefighters to raise money toward the burn camp. Marriot said he and other firefighters from his department have participated in the burn camp and have seen the children learn how to cope with their injuries.
This year the state’s firefighters will give more than $12,000 to the burn camp, but the burn camp participants will give the firefighters much more than that in terms of strength, he said.
“Let’s promote the cook-off for next year and make it bigger and better,” Marriot said. “Let’s beat what we raised this year during next year’s event.”