By Kris Testori
For the next year, guests entering The Speckled Trout Restaurant and Bottle Shop will see a unique trophy on display– a giant bronze hand holding a red chili pepper between its thumb and middle finger.
Saturday afternoon at the WinterFest Chilly Chili Challenge, a secret tasting panel of celebrity judges chose The Speckled Trout’s executive chef Michael Foreman for the “Judges Pick” award. His award-winning chili was a 4440 Ranch and Cattle Company Chuckwagon Chili. The Speckled Trout now holds onto the trophy until next year’s competition.
“The Rotary Chilly Chili Challenge was a sold-out success,” said Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Charles Hardin. Ticket sales at the event raised $2,430. “Not having had this event open to the public since 2020, along with the competitive nature exhibited by the restaurants and the opportunity for the non-profits to raise some much-needed cash and exposure, this was a huge win for the community.”
“This is so excellent,” said Blowing Rock resident Ray Moltz as he sampled the various chilis. “It’s a first-class event, and this is a wonderful venue to hold this in.” Moltz credited the town’s tremendous spirit with making the chili cookoff so successful. “This is an excellent example of how Blowing Rock has always been a family town. During WinterFest, people can walk around town and enjoy how beautiful Blowing Rock is. Everyone is in good spirits; we are blessed as a community.”
Chetola banquet chef Robert Strange said, “I really enjoy being part of the Chili Challenge.” He prepared a demi glaze short rib chili. Chili fixings, including chipotle sour cream, tequila lime cilantro sour cream, fresh jalapenos, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, and tortilla strips, loaded down his table at the event.
Strange’s nonprofit partner was Safe Harbor, an outreach program for women. Safe Harbor recently set up a community center in Boon, offering breakfast and lunch for the homeless and Christian-based rehabilitation services.
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