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Westport's Wakeman Town Farm Hosts Community Chili Cook-Off

Anye Shahar, Elise Meyer and Liz Rueven offer a kosher chili at the Westport Community Garden and Conservative Synagogue's table at the Wakeman Town Farm's first chili cook-off. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Elizabeth Beller and Annelise McCay of Wakeman Town Farm greet visitors to the chili cook-off. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Members of the Westport Woman's Club prepared a Tex-Mex chili with organic ingredients for the chili cook-off. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Jimmy Ray Stagg, Nellie Stagg, Amy Schroeder-Riggio and Kelsey Sacane of Builders Beyond Borders made a Cincinnati-style chili for the cook-off. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Emily, Benjamin and Robert Cohen of the Westport Electric Car Club handed out samples of a chili Benjamin prepared. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Christopher McKinney, Brandon Rakowski and State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg offered a spicy chili at the Wakeman Town Farm Chili Cook-Off. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Westport organizations got a chance to show off their unique takes on chili Sunday at Wakeman Town Farm's first Chili Cook-Off and Barn Dance.

"We're trying something new," said Elizabeth Beller, chairwoman of Wakeman Town Farm. The farm is hosting more community events and programs to promote family fun activities, she said. Recently, the farm hosted a Chicken Coop Tour and Family Fun Day, and will host a Fall Harvest Festival on Sept. 13 with local farm-to-table restaurants.

Attendees voted on all the chili recipes prepared by various organizations. The Westport Community Garden and the Conservative Synagogue partnered to offer a kosher chili made with vegetables grown in the community garden. The Westport Woman's Club made an organic Tex-Mex chili with vegetables from Wakeman Town Farm and grass-fed beef from the Saugatuck Craft Butchery.

"On Friday we had about ten women who spent the day chopping and stirring to prepare our chili," said Rose Jordan of the Woman's Club. The club long has been a supporter of Wakeman Farm, and last year awarded the farm a $5,000 grant for making a difference in the community.

Benjamin Cohen, 12, prepared the Westport Electric Car Club's chili, which he passed out with his parents Robert and Emily. He used a Bobby Flay recipe and said he enjoys cooking.

"It's fun to experiment with different stuff and see what make a more bitter flavor or a spicier flavor. There are so many different combinations," Benjamin said.

Builders Beyond Borders, a nonprofit that works both locally and in Latin America to build homes, schools, water systems and other facilities, dished up a Cincinnati-style chili called Beans Beyond Borders

Cincinnati chili is a regional style of chili that uses seasonings such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice or chocolate.

State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport) prepared a spicy chili with Italian sausage, a variety of beans and red wine to bring out the aroma.

"I think it's a great Westport community event. Hopefully it becomes an annual date on everyone's calendar. Each of the chilis is wonderful," Steinberg said.

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