Bonfield calls on chili cookers and soup stirrers

If you love eating with a spoon, Bonfield’s chili and soup cook-off is calling.

Each year, cooks bring in their finest fare to compete for the honour of the best soup or chili in the township. Cash prizes are also offered for each category. Last year's winners recieved $150, second place took home $100, and third place winners recieved $50.

The money is nice, but it’s mostly for the glory, and the satisfaction a cook receives from knowing their pot of chili or soup is the best in town.

The action occurs at the Community Centre on November 25 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Plenty of time to perfect your seasoning and decide which soup recipe to dig into.

“It’s about getting out, talking to neighbours, and hanging out again,” noted Steve Featherstone, a Bonfield councillor. He and his family have been attending the event for the past six years, each time with a chili for the contest.

“We’ve never won,” he joked, “but we keep putting them in.”

Last year's winners in the soup category were Nicole Duchesne, Cassandra Klooster, and Donna Clark. The chili champs were Diane St-Jean in first place, Jenna Main, and Jason Corbett.

Here’s how the evening plays out. The chilis and soups are brought to the community centre for judging. Featherstone mentioned that council usually has a big pot of chili cooking as well. People are welcome to come – for free – and have some chili and soup. There will be little samplers available for each competitor’s dish, and the audience can vote for their favourites. You can also have a bowl of what the council’s cooking.

Last year, at least 60 people came out to enjoy the soup and chili feast, and there were about eight soups and 12 chilis entered into the contest. A wise cook will keep in mind the audience vote, and tailor your spices accordingly. That five-alarm brew might go over well at the hunt camp, but may not be so well-received at the Community Centre.

And there are rules that must be followed by all cooks. First, the town asks that you register for the event by Monday, November 20th. You can reach out to Town Hall to do this or complete this handy form.

Soups and chilis must be brought in by 3:45 on the day of the event. This allows cooks to deliver the goods without being seen, as complete anonymity of the chili and soup maker is a must. The food must be served from a pot or container that will keep it warm, and no name, logo, or identification is allowed on that container, so if you have “Billy’s Crock” on your crock-pot, you’ll have to cover that.

Two more for you. Chile and soup must be served on their own, with no accompaniments. No garlic bread, cheese on top, or other fancy accoutrements. No. What’s in the pot must stand on its own. There will be no additions made once that pot hits the table. Finally, one must supply a minimum of two gallons.

The rest is up to you. The soup options are limitless, and the chilis are limited only by your own imagination. Texas style? Indiana Hoosier style with the macaroni? Missouri Kansas City Chili style? Anything goes. Everyone has their own recipe, and who knows? Maybe after a few more years of this contest, cooks might be striving to make their chili Bonfield Style.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,