Amherst and Merrimack Lions Clubs host chili cook-off

AMHERST – A non-conventional chili and a U.S. Coast Guard recipe took the top honors at the recent Lions Club chili cook-off.

Three local celebrity chefs chose them among 10 entries at the chili cook-off hosted by the Amherst and Merrimack Lions Clubs.

“It was super close. Everyone did great – a lot of great flavor profiles, presentations and creativity. All top-notch,” said Copper Door’s Executive Chef Jay Smith.

Other judges were CRACK’D Kitchen & Coffee Eatery Chef Alan Frati and Up In Your Grill’s Pitmaster Dan DeCourcey.

Brian Foster’s lamb chili took first place among the individual entries. Admitting the recipe was created just days prior to the event, he said garbanzo beans hold their consistency better, and the Havarti cheese topping adds more creaminess than other cheeses. The cilantro and lime finish the taste. Corn chips on the side add additional texture, he said.

Top Lions Club recipe award went to Bedford Lions Club’s Mike Sills, who explained a former Coast Guardsman brought the chili to a Super Bowl party in the 1970s, and it’s been a favorite ever since with the right balance of core ingredients and added bacon to flavor. Even though Sills likes the Army’s recipe – perhaps out of loyalty to his service years – he said the Coast Guard chili is the best among the military services. The chefs agreed, selecting Skip’s Chili from among the four Lions Clubs’ entries.

To view the video that highlights the entrants, visit e-clubhouse.org/sites/amherstnh. All the entrants’ recipes and five bonus recipes are available for purchase with proceeds going to the Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation of New Hampshire.