And the next winner of the Grand Chili Pepper Cup ...
Dwayne Burchett knows chili.
Made from scratch with no formal recipe, Burchett's chili is gaining Chair City fame with each passing year.
Burchett will put his award-winning blend to the test yet again as First Presbyterian Church, 21 Randolph St., prepares to host its eighth annual Chili Cookoff from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5.
Burchett, the defending Grand Chili Pepper Cup champion and three-time winner, is ready to take on all challengers in an fundraiser created to help local food agencies.
"I haven't planned anything different from last year so hopefully it turns out the same way," said Burchett, who won last year with his "Chili Chumps" recipe. "If you sit on your hands, it may come back to bite you on the butt but hopefully everything will stay the same."
Burchett's "Chili Chumps" blend edged a strong group of contenders in 2013 in what turned out to be the closest competition in the event's brief but successful history. Hospice of Davidson, the 2011 winner, and Thomasville Rotary Club are a couple of the early entries returning next month to try and knock off the defending champ.
"I expect the number of entries to pick up," said Phil Griffin, the cookoff organizer. "Last year was our best ever. Hopefully, the weather will continue to bless us as it has in the past. We're looking forward to another good one."
Good weather and the cookoff haven't always gone hand in hand. Cold rain dampened the inaugural event, but organizers felt the cookoff deserved another chance. Their intuition paid off as sunny skies and chili have been partners ever since.
"After that very first one, after we endured the storm, I had no idea how it would go," said Griffin. "We're very pleased with it."
Proceeds go directly to area food agencies who assist struggling families. Last year's event raised more than $4,000 for four area food banks — Cooperative Community Ministries, His Laboring Few Ministry, St. Stephens Progressive Baptist Church and Fairgrove Family Resource Center. Thanks to additional sponsorship, Griffin this year will feature prize money to the top three entries for the first time. The Grand Chili Pepper Cup champion will receive $250, the runner-up $100 and third place $50.
"I think it's for a great cause," said Burchett, who has been cooking chili for more than 20 years. "I have a great time. I don't have anything wrote down. I just sort of show up and try to remember everything I did from last year and do it again. It's sort of like anything you do. If you play golf three times a week, you're likely to get better at it. It's the same with cooking chili."
In addition to the chili, baked goods will be sold. Musical entertainment includes New Journey and Forever His. A chair donated by Uwharrie Chair Co. will be raffled.
Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center's heartburn treatment center returns as the event's primary sponsor.
Registration for the cookoff is $20. For more information, call Griffin at 476-4110 or 880-2019.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.