Aug. 28, 2005Participants in the Texas Society's 21st annual Chili Cook-Off brought a little bit of Ireland to the Caribbean this year, wearing green shirts, shamrock necklaces and hats Sunday in memory of recently departed friend Larry Donahue.
"This is the first time in 21 years we've ever named our chili cook-off,'" Dennis "Tex" Murphy, society member and chili cook, said. "This year it is the 'Larry Donahue Memorial Chili Village.' We've dedicated the whole event to him. He was a good friend to all of us, and a great 'chili-head'."
A two-time winner of the event, Donahue was also the first to organize a booth for Betsy's Bar on St. Thomas. "He was the head cook for the Betsy's team for quite some time," Lori Abbots, cook-off organizer and cook, said. "He was there for more years than I can count. I knew him very well. He was a good friend, and he will be missed."
But the Betsy's team did as much as possible to keep Donahue's memory alive during the event, cooking and winning in honor of their former teammate with high spirits. They even named their booth after Donahue's mainland restaurant "Donahue's Tavern."
"It's a beautiful day good crowd, great chili. Larry would have loved this," Tom Schmoldt, co-owner of Betsy's Bar, said.
Indeed, all attendees seemed to be enjoying the festivities, as Bolongo Bay Beach was packed from noon Sunday with hundreds of residents, 41 brewing pots of chili, live music, and games — all in the name of charity.
"All proceeds are going to eight nonprofit organizations across the territory, including the Red Cross and the Queen Louise Home for the Aged," Erik Ackerman, the society's 'Head Pepper' said.
Ackerman added that the Queen Louise Home supplied the society with a wish list of the things they wanted this year, including 12 geriatric chairs for the residents. "In the past we've helped them build their beauty shop and provided them with a vehicle in which they can transport their residents. This year, we also hope to provide them with $10,000 to rebuild their air conditioning unit."
The Red Cross, Family Support Network, Virgin Islands Institute of the Performing Arts, St. Thomas Swimming Association, Kid-Scope, Dial-A-Ride, and St. Thomas Rescue will all receive checks from the proceeds.
Donors for the event also contributed a multitude of prizes for the cooks and other attendees including weekend vouchers for almost every hotel on St. Thomas. "Island Beachcomber, for example, donated four rooms for our board to stay in during the event, and Quick Pics donated some $4,000 worth of toys for the games," Candie Hamlon, society member said.
Ackerman said that even the band contributed to the cook-off. "This year we have Grammy Award-winning guitarist Van Wilks and the Dave Sebree Band, who have all agreed to come and play for free that's a really great thing."
"We also couldn't have done any of this without our sponsors, Bellow's International, Certified Angus Beef and American Airlines. They've helped to make this event so great."
The V.I. Texas Society is a "pod" of the Chili Appreciation Society International and has existed within the territory since the early '80s. "We have to comply with their rules and regulations during the competition," Ackerman said. "But I must note that this year we introduced something specialour first vegetarian chili competition. It's very exciting."
Winners of the Chili Cook-Off are:
Showmanship- Grande Division (9 and more people):
First Place: Donahue's Tavern by Betsy's Bar
Second Place: Heidi's Honeymoon Grill
Third Place: US Coast Guard
Showmanship- Lonestar Division (8 people or less on team)
First Place: Cajun Cowboy
Second Place: Chili A La Archetectura- Luis Mayer
Third Place: Biker John Charlotte Tamale's Chili
Vegetarian Chili Category
First Place: Louis Huill- Hull-fire Veggie Chili
Second Place: "Tex" Murphy- Sen. Berry's Very Best Veggie Chili
Third Place: Teri Pearsall- Is that a Zucchini in Your Pants or are You Just Happy to See Me Chili
Regular Chili Category (Meat):
First Place: Jerry May- Plant Depot Chili
Second Place: James Gogan- Marriot Frenchman's Reef Chili
Third Place: Don Pomerantz- Pomerosa Chili
Fourth Place: Nora Chapman- Naughty Nora's Chili
Fifth Place: Nancy Pavuc- Nancy's Fancy Schmancy Chili
Sixth Place: Tex Murphy- Sen. Berry's Very Best Chili
Seventh Place: Alex Topoel- Under the Umbrella's Chili
Eighth Place: Tom Haley- Erin Go Postal Chili
Ninth Place: Lori Abbots- Larry's Laugh Gas Chili
Tenth Place: Kristie Sargent- Betsy's All American Chili in Memory of Larry Donahue
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