Chili chefs serve sizzling recipes for a good cause

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Mixtures of chilli powder tickled the nose and lured the residents of Santa Clarita into an open space where more than 40 chefs offered a selection of chillies – each unique in their spices and fillings.

The eighth annual SCV Chili Cook-Off welcomed more than 200 attendees Thursday night for a night of chili, entertainment and the opportunity to donate to two “underdog” charities, feedSCV and WiSH Education Foundation, at the Hyatt Regency Valencia.

“We have great people here in Santa Clarita Valley who are philanthropists,” said Nicole Stinson, founder and chair of the Chili Cook-Off fundraiser. “I’ve never seen an area like Santa Clarita. We appreciate the support. ”

Jason Jacobson, left, hands out samples of his “Hot Chili Lovin ‘” chilli, one of the nearly 40 chilli varieties held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia during the 8th Annual SCV Charity Chilli Cook-Off on Thursday, 102821 Watson / The Signal

Stinson, along with Chair Steve Portaro and Vice Chair Dana Baker, are hosting the Chili Cook-Off to raise funds for local charities that are still growing and becoming better known in the community.

“We accept nominations from charities that people want them to benefit from,” said Stinson. “We narrow it down and it depends on how many nominations we get, but we usually narrow it down to three.”

Finally, they conduct interviews with each charity to see how donations would affect those organizations and the community. This year feedSCV and the WiSH Education Foundation were selected as recipients and these two organizations share the proceeds from the Chili Cook-Off.

The charities help plan and organize the chilli cook-off, adds Stinson.

Participant, Rommel DeGorstiza, left, gets a chilli sample from the American Family Funding booth during the 8th Annual SCV Charity Chilli Cook-Off at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Thursday, 102821. Dan Watson / The Signal

The organization feedSCV was founded in 2015 and works to provide everyone in the SCV with the knowledge and resources to have a delicious and healthy meal at home every day. The goal is to make eating fresh, local and sustainable meals accessible to everyone through education, awareness and intervention.

Although famous for the WiSH Education Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to educating students in the William S. Hart Union High School District, Stinson said that she chose to help the organization because of its continuous efforts to help students recover from the 2019 shootout at Saugus High School.

Dealer Spencer Smith, left, takes bets on the craps table during the 8th annual SCV Charity Chili Cook-Off held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Thursday, 102821. Dan Watson / The Signal

“They were looking for funding specifically for the quads in high school (for possible mental health programs),” Stinson said. “They want to bring the children back to a safe place mentally.”

Selina Thomas, board member of the WiSH Education Foundation, said the foundation is helping to fill the void for the valley’s students and fundraisers like the cook-off are important in bringing the community back together.

“We are seeing the fruits of our labor turn into this huge event,” said Thomas. “We know the endgame is to help our students.”

Hundreds of attendees came during the night for charity and to eat a wide variety of chili peppers.

The G3 band entertains with classic rock during the 8th annual SCV Charity Chili Cook-Off at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Thursday, 102821. Dan Watson / The Signal

Stephanie Sewell, President of Soroptimist International in Valencia, has been participating in the cook-off for about five years, but this was the first time she had participated as a cook.

“It’s a California black bean chili with an avocado garnish, and it was made with turkey and black beans,” Sewell said. “I’ve quadrupled my recipe for two full saucepans.”

At the end of the night, in the People’s Choice category, Scott Hoolahan took first place, Kimberly Egan second, and Jason Jacobson third. In the Judges’ Choice category Sonja Randall took first place, Scott Hoolahan took second place and Hannah Larsen took third place.

Wedemeyer Consulting Inc. was awarded the Best Decorated Stand. Patrick and Gloria Kenney received an award for best costume, which was a new competition that year.

According to Stinson, the SCV Chili Cook-Off was a success.

“It has grown over the years through attendance and sponsorship,” said Stinson. “People know the event now and they are excited when it comes to it.”

Attendees, Barrie Eget, left, and Sam Birdsong sample one of the nearly 40 chilli varieties held during the 8th Annual SCV Charity Chili Cook-Off at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Thursday 102821. Dan Watson / The Signal


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