Brookline’s fifth annual Chili/Soup-Chowder cook-off a smashing success

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Friends of the Brookline Library, from left, Judi Pease, Lucy Snow, Jodi Tochko and Kathy Weston, offered freshly baked treats ranging from frosted cupcakes topped with shaved chocolate to golden brownies and pecan cookies at the fifth annual event, a Brookline Chili / Soup-Chowder Cook-Off at the Brookline Event Center & Auction Gallery.

Members of the Economic Development Committee of the Town of Brookline, and Valerie Rearick, organizer, greeted more than 300 locals and other visitors during the fifth annual Chili / Soup-Chowder Cook-Off held Sunday.

The event at the Brookline Event Center & Auction Gallery, owned by hostess Kathy Pelletier, was abuzz with friendly chatter about the widely diverse contenders in the competition of amateur and professional cooks. Live music with guitars and vocals from The Brookline Jam Band provided entertainment for the event.

Some unusual chilis and chowders and soups were sampled. Competitor Sean Madison, of Brookline, offered Wild Game Chili made flavorful by ingredients including venison and antelope from Texas. Haven’s Homemade Turkey Chili, a Brookline product, was popular. A savory shrimp chowder attracted tasters to the table of Edward Fisher, of Brookline. Every entry was different and quickly sampled. Ballots recorded people’s favorites.

Tad Putney, town administrator for Brookline, said the event has become “tremendously” popular. He said it was a gathering that brings together old friends and newcomers.

“This is our fifth contest,” Putney said. “It’s an event that brings out people from the community and their friends and neighbors for an afternoon of great food, music and prizes.”

Returning after a recent first-place win in the Professional Chili category was Al Mariano, owner of The Alamo; Texas Bar-B-Cue & Tequila Bar, newly opened on Halloween night on Route 13. Chef Richard Baker added candied jalapeno cornbread for a hot yet sweet kick.

“We’re doing tender Texas Brisket Chili with a smoky flavor,” Mariano said. “We’re new and we want everyone in the community to come and visit us.”

Chili with a Mexican flair was offered by Juanita’s Mexican Restaurant, whose owner, Juanita Perez, along with her daughter, Coriama Perez, has competed in all five years of the event.

“I receive enjoyment knowing others like my food,” said Juanita. “My favorite thing to make is Chili Rellenos.”

Winners by popular vote were announced at the end of the event, a two-hour taste festival enriched by a sale table of baked goods from ladies representing the Friends of the Brookline Library. Elsewhere, others took orders for “Nestled Here; A History of Brookline, New Hampshire, 1915-2018,” edited by Sidney Hall, Jr., and available in mid-2019 through the Brookline History


The hubbub of the day was enjoyed by Louise Price, former trustee for the Friends of the Brookline Library and a former librarian. She said the day’s event was one that opens doors to the community and permits new visitors to see some of what the town has to offer. The Brookline Event Center was the perfect venue, she added.

“They contribute an awful lot to the town,” Price said. “It’s a fabulous place for any gathering.”

Loretta Jackson may be contacted via email: