The air was filled with the aroma of cumin, sauteed onions and chilis. Dozens of tables covered with food and cookers lined the arena. Four men – the judges – sat on stage behind cloth-covered tables with water bottles at their ready.
Could there be any better setting or better way to come together than over a warm and spicy – but not too hot – bowl of chili?
That’s the philosophy behind the 4th Annual Chili Cook-Off sponsored by the Student Veterans Association and Veterans Services Office at the University of South Florida.
They recruited dozens of USF departments, student groups and staff to compete in the veterans’ annual event. The idea is to use the competition as a way for the USF civilian community to get to know the student veterans and it’s a chance for them to show off their culinary skills.
After the teams delivered their tastes to the judges – the amphitheater was opened up to eager students who flooded the various booths to taste the various chili concoctions.
Judges for the competition included the man many in the Tampa Bay region credit with starting the chili cook-offs, Tampa Tribune columnist Steve Otto. Rounding out the panel were USF Men’s Basketball Coach Stan Heath, Women’s Basketball Coach Jose Fernandez and Baseball Coach Lelo Prado.
The top three chili winners: 1st place – Team “I’m chili and I know it” from USF Dining Services; 2nd place – The Marshall Center; 3rd place – Team Angelica. Watch the video as they accept their prizes.