Battle of the Chillies declares its winners

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Thirteen chile hopefuls assembled at the Morinville Farmer’s Market over the noon hour Friday, each stirring the pot in hopes their recipe had the right stuff to translate from the judges’ taste buds to their score sheets. In the end, only one contestant in each of three categories could take the top spot.

Adriana Jestin was voted to be the top in the mild category while Mike Porlier of Home Hardware earned the applause of the judges in the hot category. Winning both number one spot in the medium category and best chile overall was Ruba Alqishawi.

“It’s very exciting that I got to win,” Alqishawi said. “The whole purpose of this was to have some fun. I’m glad I won and I’m glad everybody had fun.”

Alqishawi, who works at Don’s Bistro and entered unbeknown to her employer, said the secret to her chile is the spices she uses. “I use lots of different spices and I throw in a little bit of sugar and cilantro in the end,” she said.

Although all of the contestants were present for the competition, matching chile with chile maker was unknown to the judges as each chile was delivered to the judges in numbered cups. Numbers were known only to Farmer’s Market Manager Korien Sampson.

Fire Marshal Ed Pomerleau, one of the three judges in the competition, said judging the contest was no easy task. “The thing I’m finding as in a lot of other things I’ve judged is you have already developed a taste for the way your mama or your wife has already done yours,” he said during Friday’s judging. “You are kind of using it almost as a gauge to what other people are doing because it’s the only gauge you’ve got.”

Pomerleau said he found some of the entries running as a medium chile should really have ran as a mild, but overall he was pleased with the wide variety of flavours and textures brought before his discerning spoon.

For professional chef Don Bom Buwala, owner of Don’s Bistro, the opportunity to be a judge in the competition was an opportunity to see Morinville has some talented cooks. “I think quality is really good because everybody has their own recipes, own way, own tastes,” the chef said. “Most of the people use the right ingredients and some additions to their own recipes to change it up. But overall, it’s really good and home-made.”

But the judges were not the only ones pleased with Friday’s competition. Farmer’s Market Manager Korien Sampson said she was thrilled with the first effort. “I’m really pleased with how it turned out,” she said. “For being the first year ever, we had 13 contestants and it’s a good way to start.” Sampson said a date has already been selected to do the event again next summer.

Other winners in Friday’s event were second place medium winners Amanda, Melissa, Kyla and Staci and third place medium winner Kareen Tucci of KT Admin. Second place winner in the hot category was Amanda Blizzard. Each of the winners in each of the categories received prizes from local businesses.

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