Fall weather, hot chili make for great combination at UMFK

FORT KENT, Maine —  Dwayne Plourde of Fort Kent was crowned the inaugural “Chili Champ,” Saturday, when he earned the top spot in the University of Maine at Fort Kent’s first Chili Cook-off. Plourde won a trophy and a Hannaford gift card for his efforts. 

The event, which was a fundraiser for the UMFK women’s basketball team, drew more than a dozen local competitors and many area residents who stopped by to try the chilis and cast a vote for their favorite entry.

“It’s good,” said Elden Tardie of Fort Kent, as he finished off a small cup of chili before considering which one to sample next. “I like it when it’s mild or medium, not too hot.”

Saturday’s offerings ran the gamut, from mild and vegetarian to “toxic” hot and filled with meat.

Kim Esancy of Frenchville entered a recipe that included sweet tomato sauce and lots of tasty moose meat.

Corey Bourgoin of Fort Kent, who was representing UMFK’s food service provider,

Sodexo, entered his “Firehouse Chili.” Bourgoin, who also is a member of the Fort Kent Fire Department, said the chili was primarily made with ingredients sourced within Maine.

Bourgoin’s chili earned a 2nd place finish, followed by UMFK music professor Scott Brickman of Fort Kent and his vegetarian chili.

“I used lots of beans, some vegan crumbles (a ground beef substitute) and fresh tomatoes from my wife’s garden,” Brickman said.

“This was the first time I ever made chili,” he added. “I combined about four different recipes and modified it along the way.”

“Each one has its own flavor,” said Bill Ashby, UMFK athletic director and head men’s soccer coach, as he walked around sampling contest entries. “Each one is distinguishable.”

There was a panel of judges for the contest and audience ballots also were factored into the final winners.

Some contestants also took time to sample their competition.

“I came here to win and eat a lot of chili,” said Andrew Birden of Fort Kent, general manager of Northeast Publishing, who entered his “Good News Chili” in Saturday’s competition.

“The event was pretty successful,” head women’s basketball coach Fletcher Brown said on Monday. “We raised $400 and I plan on using some of the money to take the team on a trip to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.”


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