Chartwell Retirement Residences takes two titles at chili cook-off

With the cold weather comes a need for warm and comforting foods. For three Chartwell residences, that food was a hearty bowl of chili! A chili cook-off was held at Thunder Bay's 55 Plus Centre on October 18, and resulted in Chartwell Thunder Bay winning the People's Choice award and Chartwell Glacier Ridge winning the Judge's Choice award for their chili submissions. Chartwell Isabella and another local senior living community also submitted delicious recipes for eager taste-testers.

Hearty chili v. cowboy chili
While residents didn't play an active role in preparing the chili, they provided input and sampled the ingredients along the way.Curtis Walter, General Manager of Chartwell Thunder Bay, says he and his staff had a blast perfecting their recipe.

"We had a lot of fun trying out different combinations and providing samples for all of our staff," he says. "We received a lot of feedback, so the final product was just right!"

The recipe that took home the People's Choice title included a variety of meats such as steak chunks, ground chuck, Italian sausage and double-smoked bacon. Secret spices were added to the mix as well as a touch of dark stout beer.

Cherie Kok, Sales Consultant at Chartwell Thunder Bay and Isabella explained Judge's Choice winner Glacier Ridge used kidney beans, pork and beans and tons of vegetables for their recipe. They topped off their bowl of chili with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese and presented it on a white platter decorated with Thai peppers, red onion, paprika and red and yellow peppers.

Chartwell Thunder Bay garnished their chili with cheddar cheese to perfect their recipe.
Chartwell Glacier Ridge garnished their chili with cheddar cheese to perfect their recipe.

"The chili was hardy enough for any cowboy!" laughs Kok, explaining that Chartwell Glacier Ridge aimed for a "Wild West" chili theme. Chartwell Thunder Bay's theme was "Fire Engine," while Chartwell Isabella's was a Mexican and Hilldale Gardens fall theme. Each home worked very hard to perfect their display and make sure it stood out. 

Working in unison
The decorations and displays at the event were a group effort at the seniors' centre, according to Kok.

"All four homes within our city worked in unison to create this event," she says. "The teamwork really made this a front-page, newsworthy event."

She added that it's very important to have events like the chili cook off because it brings together Chartwell staff and residents with the surrounding community.

"Events like this bring Chartwell into the community."

"This event allowed our residents to socialize with other seniors outside of the Chartwell community and showed everyone how much fun we have at our residences," says Kok. "It also showcased what a great dining program we have at Chartwell—how delicious our food is—and how much staff and residents work together to create a warm and friendly home. That's what retirement is all about!"

At the end of the event, volunteers counted the gold coins that participants used to vote for their favourite chili and then announced the winners.

The event was intended to be a fundraiser for Thunder Bay's 55 Plus Centre, and raised over $1000. Kok said they didn't really have a fundraising goal in mind, but they wanted to have fun and help an organization that showed support for seniors in the community.

As for next year, Kok said they will continue on with the cook-off style event but will mix up the menu a bit. Soup and cheesecake are among the list of possibilities for a new competition! Yum!