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Hey. My name is Caden and I'm from the Chicagoland area.  I'm currently going into my 3rd year at NMU.  I'm a multimedia production major with a double minor in journalism and criminal justice. For as...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Chili challenge holds ninth annual event

Sausage, bleu cheese, venison, squash, kangaroo and chocolate are not the typical ingredients a person would choose in order to make that perfect bowl of chili, but these are examples of what will be found when the Culinary Students of NMU (CSNMU) host their ninth annual Chili Challenge on Tuesday, March 30.  The competition will allow U.P. chefs and amateurs to show off their favorite chili recipe and attempt to win a prize.

About 12 different chili recipes will be judged and awards will be given to the Best Overall, Most Original and Best Use of Heat.  Those who attend and sample each chili will have the opportunity to vote for the Peoples Choice Award.

“It’s just kind of a fun event as we’re trying to wrap up the year,” said Chris Kibit, professor of technology and occupational sciences and of the hospitality management program.

Although there are contestants who return year after year to this event, recipes are rarely repeated.

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“In the eight years I’ve been involved, every year we have a different mix and different styles of chili,” Kibit said.
NMU’s Chili Challenge is well-known for acquiring a wide variety of recipes such as breakfast chili, kangaroo chili, white chili with chicken and tex-mex chili.

“It gives (culinary students) a fun venue to promote what we do with food,” said Kibit.

Ashley Ellis, a senior hospitality management major and president of CSNMU, is responsible for promoting the Chili Challenge and explaining to the judges what they need to do and how to evaluate each chili.

This year’s judges include Nathan Mileski, senior chef for dining services; Jack Lasalle, member of the NMU Board of Trustees; and Dan Zdroik, a graduate of NMU’s food service management program.

“It’s unique because it’s actually something that we’re putting on. We get to watch them do their thing and reward them,” Ellis said.  “We get to hang out with the chefs, too.”

Ellis also views the Chili Challenge as a positive networking experience for culinary students.

“People are supporting us and seeing what we’re doing. We meet friends through this, and they actually come and help us by volunteering,” Ellis said.

Supporting CSNMU at the Chili Challenge has its benefits for Northern students, too.

“It’s only $3 for (students) to come, and they can basically get a dinner’s worth of food, some from every contestant,” Ellis said.

Patrick Digneit, a junior hospitality management major, was a contestant in the eighth annual Chili Challenge and won second place overall along with the Judge’s Choice award for his (tex-mex) chili that included venison, ground beef and chocolate.

“It’s a fun event, and it brings a lot of the hospitality community together,” Digneit said.

Digneit said he enjoys seeing everyone’s background, where they came from and how they were raised, and how differences influence their recipes.  For instance, Digneit said that some people who grew up in Wisconsin use noodles in their chili.

“Everyone has their own homemade recipe, and some people don’t want to tell you what’s in it because it’s their secret recipe,” Digneit said.

Digneit said that his favorite part of the Chili Challenge is, of course, eating it. He encourages the NMU community to support CSNMU by attending and sampling chili.

Digneit, who is participating again this year, said that his chili will be a surprise, but describes it as being “a little off the wall.”

NMU’s ninth annual Chili Challenge takes place on Tuesday, March 30 from 3-5:30 p.m. in the Jacobetti Center Commons.  It costs $3 for students with ID and $5 for the public to attend, and cornbread and lemonade will provided.  Although the registration period has ended, anyone interested in bringing three gallons of their own chili recipe can e-mail Kibit at [email protected] to see if any openings remain.

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