Air Force ROTC spices up routine with chili cook-off


Marti Elshaug

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Air Force ROTC spices up routine with chili cook-off

While most people don't think of making – or eating – chili at 6 a.m., the UND Air Force ROTC decided to pass on the cereal and kick-start their Saturday morning with something a little stronger.

The UND Cadets hosted their fourth annual chili cook-off on March 2. With 23 pots of chili entered and over 100 people in attendance, it was a huge success.

"This is an event that goes on at Air Force active duty bases around the world," said Lt. Col. Matthew R. Stout. "Each year, it has gotten bigger and bigger."

The cook-off was held at such an early time because it was considered a training event and took place at their normal 6 a.m. lab on Tuesdays.

"The reason we choose to have a chili cook-off is that the idea of chili is simple; take a bunch of items, throw it in a crock pot and consume," said Lt. Col. Matthew R. Stout. "It allows room for creativity, which isn't always the best idea."

This year, the guest judges were Grand Forks Air Force Base Commander Col. Timothy Bush, Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration Dennis Elbert (UND's ROTC advisor), and President Robert Kelley and First Lady Marcia Kelley. Participants were judged on appearance, smell, taste and heat.

For their part, the judges were given a bottle of tums and a gallon of milk. Little milk was left over at the end of the contest.

"We definitely had some heat this year, which is uncommon in the upper northwest," said Stout.

Danny McLane and Ben Schmidt won the Hottest competition with their chili experiment, "Mississippi Sunshine." Though Robert Wright lost that contest by one point, his creation, "The Wright Stuff," won the People's Choice award, while McLane and Schmidt's recipe was also voted "Worst Creation."

"It's not supposed to taste good," Schmidt stressed, "It's supposed to be hot."

"Best Overall" was initially a tie between Christina Bausch and Timothy Bjorgan, and after a "Taste Off," Bausch was declared the winner. Bjorgan received the "Top Cadet" award at the end of competition.

All things considered, the cadets that were in attendance had a great time. The Fargo cadets, some of whom were competing last Saturday, are holding their chili cook-off March 23, and a few UND cadets are traveling to Fargo to take on the challenge.

Marti Elshaug

University Relations student writer

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