For the first time in 10 years the Culinary Students of NMU (CSNMU) is dedicating its annual chili challenge in memory of a student.
Becky Blackburn died in a car accident in February 2010. She was a student in the hospitality management program at NMU.
“I was close with Becky,” said Scott Bousson, president of CSNMU, who brought the idea forward to have an event in her honor. “We looked at the calendar of events and this was the best fit.”
Professional and amateur chefs will cook their best chili and offer it to the public to sample. The goal of the chili challenge this year is to have a lot more people involved, including student organizations, said Bousson.
“Becky was an extremely involved student,” he said. “We want to get everyone as involved as she was.”
Bousson has been working with TV 6 and the Marquette Food Co-op to set up a pre-event this week. TV 6 will be at the Co-op this Friday, March 25, at 4 p.m., when the Co-op will give $20 donations to the amateur teams competing. There will be pictures of Blackburn all throughout the store, Bousson said.
At the actual event there will be a memory wall for Becky with papers that people can sign or write notes on to remember her by. Some of her family will also make up a team of judges a long with some people from TV 6 and professional chefs.
The event this year is expected to be larger than in previous years.
“There are normally five to 10 competitors, and 20 to 30 people taste,” said Becky Beaverson, vice president of CSNMU.
This year there are 20 confirmed competitors and an expected 200-300 people attending. There are two categories to compete under: professional and amateur. All it takes to compete is to make enough chili. This is a fun competition to see who has the best chili recipe in the area, Bousson said.
There will be other things to eat besides chili. Huron Mountain Bread Co. is donating bread to cleanse the pallet between tastings, and Donkers is donating ice cream.
The chili challenge is Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Jacobetti Center. Admission is $3 for NMU students with ID and $5 for the general public. All proceeds this year go to support the hospitality program at NMU.