16th Annual Protective Services Chili Cook-Off: Plenty of Beef, But No Hard Feelings

By Chris Worthington, staff writer; photos by Richard Frederickson, staff photographer
A visitor to the Protective Services chili cook off places her vote in the ballot box.

For 16 years running, Tom Miller, Protective Services manager, has sought an elusive prize: a victory at his own chili cook-off.

This year, he had high hopes … but once the votes were tallied, it was clear that Christina Robinson, research associate II, Animal Research Technical Support, had won the competition going away. Her entry, which she describes as a Latin spinoff from a traditional chili, earned a whopping 103 votes—almost 20 percent of all votes cast.

“I would like to thank everyone that attended for bearing the cold to come out and support all the contestants. Also, I would like to thank everyone who voted for my entry!” said Robinson.

Robinson took second place in the cook-off two years ago, but she ran out of chili before everyone had a chance to sample it, possibly costing her the crucial winning votes.

“This entry was for redemption and to see if [a larger batch] would take the number-one spot. I used six pounds of beef!!” Robinson added.

Her recipe starts with a traditional chili as a base, to which she adds red wine and Spanish seasonings from Goya like sazón, adobo, and sofrito/recaito. To top it all off, her ground beef is sourced from a colleague who feeds his cattle spent barley from local breweries.

Rounding out the top three in this year’s competition were Luz Fuentes (second place, 67 votes) and Mike Spohr (third place, 50 votes). Nineteen employees entered their recipes, making the competition one of the biggest yet.

“The nice thing about this year’s contest was that we had a lot more new contestants,” said Miller. “I guess they didn’t realize I was just joking when I said that the winner would receive a 2019 Ford Mustang.”

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