Fire and Ice: A clash of cooks at Goggin

by Elizabeth Jenike, IT Services

Well, folks. It’s finally happened: the clash of the century.

The IT Services vs. MU Libraries ‘Fire & Ice’ Chili Challenge took place on April 25, and boy, was it a doozy.

For a little background: Earlier in the year, both the IT Services division and the MU Libraries held separate chili contests within their own departments. (Read more about the IT contest in the IT News article.) Our best chefs gathered and threw down, and three from each department came away victorious.

And then, on April 25, the top six chefs convened in the Goggin Ice Center to present their recipes to a panel of judges...

The buildup

In the weeks leading up to the competition, we conducted a little friendly sparring on our Twitter accounts. It was great fun and boosted the excitement a little.

University data modeler Roxanne Storer served as the emcee for the day. She kicked us off by introducing the judges and then calling on the contestants to plate and serve their recipes. One major difference between the department competitions and this cook-off was that whereas the smaller departmental events were blind tastings, this one saw the contestants actually serving their chilis to the judges, Food Network style.

Chili and the judges

The lineup

The top six competitors introduced, plated, and served their chili.

From MU Library:

  • Lori Chapin
  • Patrick Hawk
  • Heather Bennett

From IT Services:

  • Miranda Jacobs
  • Emily Schmidt
  • Jeff Toaddy

We were joined by a star-studded panel of impartial judges who know their way around a bowl of chili:

  • Carla DeGirolamo, Miami Varsity Synchronized Skating coach
  • Michael Loprete, Dining Services corporate executive chef
  • Dr. Renate Crawford, Miami University Ambassador
  • Claire Wagner, Director of News & Communication
  • John McCandless, Miami University Police Department Chief

The judges got their own prizes for participating in their important roles—engraved chili peppers!

The tension was palpable as each chili made its way across the judges’ plates. A mixture of IT Services and library staff looked on in anticipation, waiting for the final say in who is the new chili sheriff in town.

“Each chili has its own identity,” Chef Loprete said after the judges had tasted each recipe.

The victorious

At the end of the day, Patrick Hawk, computer and technology specialist, took the title on behalf of the library! His smokey chili has been the talk of the town in years past—his coworkers famously begged him to tone down the spice, as it was nearing nuclear levels of heat. Whatever he did—it worked!

“I knew there were great chilis in the competition, and this was the first time that my chili placed (second) in the Library's chili cook-off out of the past four competitions,” Patrick said. “Based on our previous cook-offs, marinara based chilis seemed to do better but I stuck with my recipe and tweaked it over those four competitions. I was a bit nervous about garnishing my chili with smoked Gouda, but it looks like I made a good choice. Over all, the competition was fun, I loved the smack talk from both sides, and I'm glad people liked my smokey chili.”

the winners of the chili competition - first place to patrick hawk on the left, miranda jacobs in the middle, and heather bennett on the right

Second place was taken by Miranda Jacobs, IT Process and Planning consultant and student worker, representing for IT Services! And Heather Bennett, administrative assistant at King Library, took third place with a white bean chicken chili.

As a nontraditional student, Miranda felt like she needed to give her all.

“I am always up for a good competition,” she said, “and being a student worker I had to make sure I brought the heat. My plan is to try a different chili next year, that has been my winning strategy so far! So stay tuned for a new winning chili next year!”

To echo Miranda—the library may have won the battle, but we shall see about the war! Look out next year!

Check out the awesome video created by Miami University Libraries and get hype for the next time we meet up!

A trophy in the shape of a chili pepper

Dr Renate Crawford sitting at a table with a white cloth

Three plaques for the first, second, and third place winners of the chili competition

a table full of crock pots of chili