Chili Secrets from a Fundraising Cook-off Champ!

Did you know that the first documented recipe for chili dates back to 1519?!?! Since then people have been battling for the best chili bragging rights at cook-offs all over the world! Jason Rand is one of those people. As Softchoice’s very own chili champion for three years straight, Jason secured his title last month at Softchoice’s 4th Annual Chili Cook-off Fundraiser for Softchoice Cares.

I had an opportunity to sit down with the man…the legend… to reveal the secrets behind his chili masterpiece…

So Jason, what’s the ‘secret sauce’ to winning our Softchoice Chili Cook-off three years in a row?!

Spice! Chili isn’t hamburger meat with gravy. I know the judges are chili lovers and want to be hit in the mouth with those chili flavours. I use 16 different kinds of peppers to make sure mine packs a punch! Focusing on this spice and flavour is what helps me take the judges to ‘Flavour Country’ and keep them there! 

You might not want to share any more secrets, but can you give other chili lovers a few tips to creating their own outstanding chili?

1.) First, take your time. Two days before the event, I’m already starting my process. I smoke all my meat and hand grind my top sirloin and prime rib.
2.) Second, get good quality, fresh ingredients. I don’t buy cheap food. Better ingredients mean better tasting chili.
3.) Finally, try different things. Research and get to know and try different recipes. Experiment and find that “aha” moment of what works best for you. As I mentioned, for me, it’s all about the spice!

What is it about chili that makes people so competitive but at the same time brings everyone together?

The taste is what brings the taste testers together and back for more. They’re clearly the real winners in all of this because they get to sit back, relax, and let their taste buds do all the work. And with so many willing guiney pigs, it makes it a perfect opportunity to create a challenge, get creative and ensue rivaly and ridicule amongst the cooks…all in good fun and for a good cause, of course :)

This year’s Chili Cook Off was, of course, another hit!

With employees paying $10 dollars to be the lucky taste testers, more than $1350 was raised for Softchoice Cares! This year’s organizer – John Dumo, Six Sigma Director, was ecstatic with the turnout. “I’m always impressed and surprised by the pride and effort people put into their chilies. Every year they ‘up’ their game and make it very hard to pick a winner.”

But a winner had to be chosen and once again, Jason was victorious!

Do you have your own chili-making tricks in your recipe box? Willing to share? Leave us some tips below!

About James Shirriff

Official Opposition party leader of Intern Alley, Toronto, James is focused on bringing you exciting stories happening around Softchoice.