Laurel Health Centers
Penn Oak Realty
Bank On It
By The Door
Back to Basics
Live From The Hive
Three Top Taste-off Chili Winners Announced
Photo by John Eaton
Zack Luczak is the 2023 Chili With A Chance For Chocolate Taste-Off first place winner. He is holding a bottle of Ensemble Rouge, one of the new ingredients in his 2023 chili.
Jim Howe, organizer of the 2023 Chili With A Chance For Chocolate Taste-Off and Second Chance Animal Sanctuaries president, announced the first through third place taste-off winners on Saturday, Feb. 11. This was the eighth taste-off held since the first one in 2015. It is a Wellsboro Winter Celebration event.
The first place winner was awarded $100 and the second and third place winners $50 each in Wellsboro Chamber Dollars that can be redeemed at any of more than 40 area participating businesses.
“All 13 chili chefs will soon be receiving a special thank you gift for participating,” said Howe.
The 315 people who each bought a $5 taste-off passport had the opportunity to try all or some of the 13 different types of chili beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday. They cast their votes and then turned in their passports at any taste-off location by 2 p.m.
Taking first place was Zack Luczak with his Wine’ing for Chili at Oregon Hill Winery’s retail store at 87½Main Street.
Luczak’s chili includes Oregon Hill’s Ensemble Rouge, a blend of dry red wines along with ground beef, bacon, onions, red peppers, diced tomatoes, five different types of beans, spices and a secret ingredient.
In 2022, Luczak took second place with his Wine-ing for Chili made with Oregon Hill Cabernet Sauvignon. “My chili’s name was spelled with a hyphen last year and with an apostrophe this year to signify they are different,” he said.
“I tweaked my 2022 chili to create this year’s marriage of flavors by taking out some of the spices and two of the meats I had used and adding some new ingredients,” said Luczak.
“I’ve been around the food industry most of my life because my dad was a chef and I would help him. I began working in area restaurants about 16 years ago and been at Oregon Hill Winery for the past two and a half years. I am currently an assistant winemaker but continue to cook, too. Through Oregon Hill, I have catered several private events at the main winery and for the past two years made the chili for the taste-off.”
Taking second place with her Mammy’s Sweet Chili was Pat Schramm, owner of Shabby Rue at 69 Main Street. “I am surprised and thrilled. I’ve never won before and have been participating in the taste-off since it started in 2015, most of the time with my Mammy’s Sweet Chili. I don’t consider myself a great cook but I Iove to make chili. Several people have asked me for my recipe but I don’t follow one,” Schramm said.
Third place winner was Greg Nagy with his Smoked White Chicken Chili. He is the head chef at Beck’s Bistro, 104 Main Street. The Main Street Creamery at 17 Main Street was the tasting location. In his chili were marinated, barbecued chicken; grilled corn; great northern beans; onions, peppers and spices. He won third place in 2018, second place in 2019 and first place in 2020 at the taste-off with a different chili he had made for another business in Wellsboro. “I am hoping to do that with this one – tweak it into first place,” he said. “I have lived in Wellsboro all my life and became interested in cooking thanks to my grandfather. I spent summers with my grandparents in Canada after he retired and he would always be cooking.”
Proceeds from the sale of the passports will benefit rescued animals and programs offered by Second Chance Animal Sanctuaries, according to Howe.
Writing: Diane Eaton