Though judges at the fourth annual Mayor's Chili Challenge in Harlem were initially deadlocked on a winner Saturday, the Smokin' Chili Cops eventually reclaimed their first-place title.
The team cooked three types of chilli at the competition: "Home Sweet Home," "High-Speed Pursuit" and "Jailhouse." The first two flavors won first place and third place, respectively.
"It's entirely three different recipes," said Duane Fry, of Gainesville, Ga. "Each has its own distinct flavor."
Home Sweet Home is a sweeter chili made with beans, onions, red peppers, tomatoes and other ingredients, Fry said. High Speed Pursuit contains no beans, but many spices.
"It's not like anything you're going to find in a store," he said.
David Patterson, of Lawrenceville, Ga., and Eddie Lynn, of Dawsonville, Ga., also are part of the Smokin' Chili Cops. The team travels throughout the state participating in chili competitions.
The group also won first and third places last year and have been competing at Harlem's chili challenge for three years. Fry, who retired from law enforcement with the Georgia Secretary of State's office, said the names of the chili came from his profession.
Four other teams entered this year's challenge.
Mayor Bobby Culpepper, along with Harlem city Councilwoman Robin Root and Councilman Tom Blalock, won second place and the people's choice award. Their chili consisted of beef, pork, bacon and beans.
Columbia County Commissioner Scott Dean cooked his "Ollie's Hearty Chili." He has competed in the challenge since it began. His chili was cooked in a cast-iron pot and flavored with many types of peppers.
"Mine's the hottest one here," he said. "There's no ifs, ands or buts about it.
"It does come across with a kick."
When cooking their hamburger-based chili, volunteers with Attic Treasures, Harlem's nonprofit thrift store, started out with a recipe and added ingredients as they tasted it.
The recipe at the Buster's Pizza and Subs stand included ground meat, beans, tomatoes and special seasonings.
"I try to make something that suits everyone," said Shirley Cassidy, a manager at the restaurant.
Though the competition was stiff, the cooks seemed to enjoy exchanging a few friendly jabs.
"I think that's the best part," Root said, "being able to mingle with everyone and joke around."
The winners were decided by four judges, and throughout the day, 217 tickets were bought by people voting for their favorite chili.
William Padgett, of Atlanta, was visiting a friend. While the pair were walking outdoors, they saw the competition and decided to check it out.
"I love chili," said Padgett, before leaving with three cups of chili in his hands. "I'm going to enjoy every taste."
Jim Laughery, the owner of Buster's Pizza and Subs on North Louisville Street in Harlem, eats a cup of chili on a break from working at his booth Saturday.[CAPTION]
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