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First time entrant wins Homewood’s chili cook-off

Was it the voodoo that made Dan Taylor’s chili so delicious?
Whatever he mixed into the pot, his Voodoo Chili won him first place in the amateur section of Homewood’s annual chili cook-off, part of Fall Fest on Saturday, Sept. 29, in downtown Homewood. It was his first time entering the contest.
Taylor, of Homewood, wasn’t giving up any of the secrets to his award winning chili.
“It’s love and time that goes in to making chili,” he said. 
And, he added, “It’s a lot of work,” noting that he’d spent three hours on Friday cutting up a bottom round roast for his delectable dish. 
Once he was announced the winner, the line of taste-testers was long in front of his chili pot.

Second place went to Martin Will of Homewood and third place was awarded to Chuck Mokijewski of Homewood.

Special thanks went out to the other contestants: Larry Van Heel and Dana Pries, of Homewood, and Ken Schmidt, a former Homewood resident who lives in Cedar Lake, Indiana.
For a donation to the Homewood-Flossmoor High School Master Singers, Fall Fest-goers were given a small bowl and a spoon so they could sample chili made by the six amateurs and three professionals. LaVoute Bistro won in the professional category.
Rich Isom, who waited patiently for the annual taste-testing to begin, said he’d been coming the past several years. For him, each sample “has a different taste. They all have a little different zing to them.”
The contest judges put their taste buds to work. Bonita Parker of ComEd’s external affairs staff, joined Donna Miller, a candidate for the Cook County Board, and Keith Lewis of Bookie’s New and Used Books in Homewood, at the judges table, sampling helpings over about 40 minutes. Portions were rated on appearance, uniqueness of the recipe and overall taste. 
Phil Kosanovich of the Homewood Community Relations Committee, coordinated the Chili Fest with fellow committee member Rob Pascarella and Homewood village trustee Lauren Roman, a former committee member now serving as village board liaison.
Kosanovich said over the 10 years he’s worked the event the judges always seem to get it right.  
Of course, with chili there’s really no wrong approach. It’s just a matter of preference. For example, LaVoute won with a vegetarian chili that used no animal products. Twisted Q made a unique white chili, and Cilantro Cocina Mexicana Restaurant went with spices “to try and bring the traditions of Mexico to the chili,” said chef Sergio Fabian.
Overall, the annual event again proved to be a hit.
“This is awesome,” said Mike Duntz of Homewood.
Nancy Johnson of Chicago Heights said Van Heel’s chili “reminds me of my mom’s.”
Andrea Lewis, formerly of Homewood, drove down from Lisle to attend the fest. Her favorite was Will’s dish, which she “thoroughly enjoyed. He has beef and vegetables. It’s more hearty and spicy.”
William Dunnett of Homewood thought Pries’s chili was his favorite.
“It has the most authentic feel to it. It’s like something your mom would make for you,” he said.
The chili tasting was just one aspect of Fall Fest. The Homewood Beautification Committee hosted a scarecrow contest, kids got to select and decorate a pumpkin for decorating from a pumpkin patch, arts and crafts vendors offered their unique handiwork and a variety of foods were available. Hay rides took people around downtown Homewood. 

Photos by Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle

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