Cook-off first-timer earns chili bragging rights

“Heat at the Seat” committee member Jill Morrison stirs one of the entry pots at the 12th annual Chili Cook-off held Saturday, March 17, in Montrose. With Cabot Oil& Gas Corp. doubling all of the proceeds from the day, the event raised over $20,000 for the Endless Mountains Health Systems building project. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

BY STACI WILSON

Ella Krawecki’s chili is the best around.

So says the panel of judges of the 12th Annual Heat at the Seat Chili Cook-off held Saturday, March 17, at the County Seat Tavern.

Krawecki, ofApalachin,N.Y., took home top honors in the “beef” division and was soon after awarded the “Best Overall Chili” trophy. She bested about 30 other entrants for the prize.

“I said I was only going to ever enter one time and I’m done,” Krawecki said.

In addition to her two trophies and medals, Krawecki earned bragging rights on her chili – at least until next year’s contest.

The annual fundraising event benefits the Endless Mountains Health Systems building project which broke ground for Phase I of construction in January.

In addition to the chili contest and tasting, an auction and raffles are conducted throughout the event.

A football jersey, autographed by Montrose native Chris Snee of the New York Giants, fetched $600 at auction.

In addition to the jersey and several other items, a kayak, fire pit, stone bench, baby pig and a hand carved cane were also auctioned.

The Montrose Lions Club also presented a check for $4,500 to the fund during the Chili Cook-off.

Lions Club spokesman Dave Williams said the club had committed to donating $10,000 to the building project several years ago but has since decided to increase the pledge to $15,000.

EMHS CEO Rex Catlin said, “With the Cabot match, (the $4,500 donation) ends up being $9,000.”

Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation recently announced a $1 million contribution to Phase II of the building project; and pledged to match all funds donated by the community up to $1 million. If the goals are met, the hospital building project will net a total $3 million towards Phase II – the clinic portion – of the project through community and Cabot’s efforts.

County Seat owner and Heat at the Seat organizer Nonie Waysaid Monday that with the doubling of the funds by Cabot, over $20,000 was raised for EMHS.

First-time participant Ruth Wilmarth, wife of EMHS Board Chairman Ray Wilmarth, entered her white chicken chili but didn’t come home with any of the top awards.

But her not-too-spicy mix of chicken and beans is her husband’s favorite.

“I sampled a batch a few days ago and, boy, was it good,” Ray said.

The cook-off is not just about the chili and the auction.

Cheryl Myers said she came out to see everyone and support the hospital.

“I like to see everyone out supporting the community,” Myers said.

First-time entrant Ella Krawecki, of Apalachin, N.Y., took home bragging rights and was named “Best Overall” at the 12th Annual “Heat at the Seat” Chili Cook-off held Saturday, March 17 at the County Seat Tavern, Montrose. Krawecki, who also took the “Top Beef Chili” award was presented her trophy by Dr. J. Enrique Nazar.

Winners of the event include:

Commercial: 1st place – Montrose VFW; 2nd place – The Parkview Hotel; 3rd place – Queen of Hearts.

Other than beef: 1st place – Carl Buford; 2nd place – Kassidy Ramirez; 3rd place – Jason Bennett.

Beef: 1st place: Ella Krawecki; 2nd place – Joe Pleva; 3rd place – Mary Mushala.

Best Presentation – Mary Mushala.

Best Overall – Ella Krawecki.