Winners of Toms River Chili and Salsa cook-off take home $35,000
Toms River, NJ…Competition was stiff this year at the 22nd Annual New Jersey State Chili and Salsa Cook-off as nearly 45 cooks competed for the $1,500 top prize. The Cook-off was held on Saturday, May 21st from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Washington Street in Downtown Toms River.
Judges and the voting public sampled all the spicy, taste-tingling entries to declare the winning chili and salsa cooks, who shared a total of $5,300 in prize money. The event is hosted by Downtown Toms River and was sponsored by Comcast, New Jersey Natural Gas, United Water Toms River, Community Medical Center, Stop & Shop, Extra Space Storage, Allen Consulting and radio stations Magic 100.1 WJRZ and 95.9 The WRAT.
The Cook-off features two divisions – the International Chili Society (ICS) sponsored categories and the People’s Choice. The ICS division has three categories – red chili, chili verde and salsa. People’s Choices has red chili and salsa. Prize money aside, for contestants entered into the ICS categories the singular goal is to win first place, which guarantees eligibility for the ICS Worlds Championship later this year.
All winners below received a plaque for their category in addition to any cash prizes. ICS competition winners are: Red Chili: 1st place and $1,500 was awarded to Mike Freedman of Somers, CT with Mad Mike’s Politically Correct Chili; 2nd place and $300 went to Rhone Carr of Mantua, NJ with Rhone’s Rangers Chili; 3rd place and $100 went to Doug Johnson of Harrisburg, PA with Eagle’s Chili and 4th and 5th place, respectively, went to Jack Cowell of Ansonia, CT with Bad Bandito Chili and Raymond Palazzo Jr. of Somerset, NJ with Cross Eyed Chili. The ICS Chili Verde winners are: 1st place and $500 went to Linda McGrath, Weatogue, CT; 2nd place and $200 went to Dave Lorenz of Marlton, NJ; and 3rd place and $100 went to Kurt Leithner, Avenel, NJ. ICS Salsa winners were as follows: 1st place and $400 to Damir Penava of Ridgewood, NJ; 2nd and $200 to Mike Scranton of Edison, NJ; 3rd place and $100 to Judi Omerza of Wilkes-Barre, PA. All of the ICS 1st place winners are invited to compete in the 2011 Worlds Championship later this year as representatives for New Jersey.
This year’s People’s Choice winners are: 1st place Red Chili and $1000 went to Felix Del Valle, booth #110 of Lakewood, NJ with Latinos On The Loose; 2nd place and $300 to Mary Miranda, Booth #111, of Colonia, NJ with Pop Hots; and 3rd place and $100 to Adrienne Merchant, Booth #130 of Toms River with Red Headed Stepchild Chili. People’s Choice Salsa winners are: 1st place and $400 went to Frank Benowitz of the Mercer Co. Community College, Booth #128 of Somerset, NJ and 2nd and 3rd place, respectively, went to Scott Cullen, Booth #116, of Toms River, NJ and Michael Britton, Booth #115 of Toms River, NJ. Best Booth/Showmanship award went to Pop Hots, represented by Mary Miranda who received $100 for outstanding efforts.
Also announced were the winners of the children’s coloring contest, which was held prior to the Cook-off for children 3 – 12 years of age. Participants were encouraged to be as creative as possible when decorating their coloring page. Winners are Nathaniel Jackson of Bricktown in the 6 – 8 year old category; and Taylor Ketcham of South Toms River in the 9 – 12 year old category. Winners were each presented with a $25 AMEX gift card.
Upcoming Downtown events include: Cruisin’ Downtown, held the second Wednesday of each month through September; Wednesdays On Washington, a concert series held on Washington Street in July & August; the 9th Annual New Jersey State Ice Cream Festival, July 16; and the weekly Farmers Market in Huddy Park on Wednesdays from June 8 through October 26. For additional information on this event or other Downtown events in Toms River, call 732-341-8738 or Allen Consulting at 732-946-2711 or visit www.downtowntomsriver.com.