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New entries in ‘ChiliFest’ to benefit CPHS animals

At 76, Howard “Boots” Alwine should be relaxing and enjoying retired life as most folks his age are doing. But Boots isn’t a conformist. He prefers to stay busy and his idea of relaxing is working in the kitchen of “Racer’s Sports Bar” (Bald Eagle intersection), owned by his daughter Gail and son-in-law Wayne Monahan. Boots knows his way around the kitchen better than most. And he cooks better than most too!
On Sunday, November 25, Boots will be making yet another appearance in the annual “Satan’s Revenge ChiliFest” to benefit homeless animals at the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society (Altoona). His “Pit Stop” chili is a favorite at the Bald Eagle restaurant. A second offering he calls “Checkered Flag” chili has a different flavor and Boots has been busy refining both for the popular, but friendly contest.
This year Boots is more determined than ever to come away as a winner. He was edged out last year from the awards by Tyrone’s Bull Pen who walked off with “Best Bowl” top honors as well as taking second place from the celebrity judging panel.
On the other side of town, the folks at the Bull Pen are still “riding high” from last year’s event and they’re hoping “Bull Pen Chili” will be just as popular this time around. “Chili chef” Kerry Sickler is also offering “El Toro Caliente” (the hot bull!). Kerry says her recipes vary based on the types of chilis she finds to cook up the spicy dishes.
In addition to Racer’s and the Bull Pen, this year features new entries from Altoona Hotel (a former “Best Bowl” award winner), Uno’s Chicago Grill, Kokopelli’s Coffee House, Fat Daddy’s BBQ (Altoona), Marzoni’s (Duncansville) CoBRH’s Lounge, Pellegrine’s, the Cantina (Altoona) and Boston Culinary Group (Lakemont Park & Blue Knob). Also a returning competitor, The Black & Gold Tavern will attend the event.
Some interesting new entries this year may provide incentive for folks to attend according to CPHS officials. Unique new chili recipes such as the “tongue in cheek” duck & cheese offering from Marzoni’s called “Cheese & Quackers” are expected to stir up interest. Altoona Hotel will reprise their “Best Bowl” award winning “El Diablo Chipotle” chili and Uno’s will offer up “Windy City Chili” (a reference to the franchise based in Chicago).
The event will also feature a major raffle prize this year of an overnight “Romance Package” courtesy of the Altoona Ramada, restaurant gift certificates and a 50/50 with entertainment provided by perennial local favorite “Zupe” (the one-man-band).
Top prize at the cook-off (“Best Bowl”) is a traveling trophy awarded to the best chili as chosen by a celebrity judging panel. The “People’s Choice” award is given on the basis of votes as cast by party-goers.
“One of most favorite competitions at the event is a ‘one-on-one’ competition that pits WTAJ-TV Chief Meteorologist and ‘chilihead’ Joe Murgo against WTAJ-TV news anchor Carolyn Donaldson who will be presenting “My Mom’s Chili”….a 25-ingredient recipe that has won awards in other competitions according to Carolyn. Joe’s beaten all comers so far in the past 6 years but it might be different this time around,” says Dave Hopkins, CPHS Director of Fundraising/Public Relations and ChiliFest organizer. “We think folks will enjoy judging those two….the winner will have some pretty good bragging rights!”
The event always features a celebrity judging panel that this year will consist of Altoona Mayor Wayne Hippo, WJAC-TV news anchorman Marty Radovanic, Altoona Mirror General Manager Neil Rudel, Johnstown Tribune-Democrat editorial page Editor, Bruce Wissinger, Travis Koshko (WATM/WWCP-TV Meteorologist), Craig “The Iceman” Andrews (Q-94 radio), Elsie Zengel (Altoona Curve) and Doug Herendeen (WRTA radio).
“And our star panelist….just in case….is our favorite gastroenterologist, Dr. Ralph McKibbin!” added Hopkins.
Hopkins says “prime sponsors” for the event this year are City Beverage, Boston Culinary Group and New Look Uniform. Additional sponsors include Always a Party Rentals, Gingrich Agency, Dr. Ralph McKibbin, the Brew Zoo, Blair Orthopedics Associates & Sports Medicine, Lee Food Service, Blair Insurance, Blair Candy Company, Thompson Pharmacy and Splish Splash Auto Bath.
Tickets for the sampling event (doors open at 4:30 p.m. with serving to being at 5 p.m.) are $12 ($15 at the door) and can be purchased at The Daily Herald, the CPHS Shelter (1837 E. Pleasant Valley Blvd.), the CPHS Thrift Shop (220 E. Walton Ave., Altoona), Chris’ Hallmark (Pleasant Valley Shopping Center) and Thompson Pharmacy (Chestnut Ave.) and all participating restaurants/taverns.
All proceeds from the event go to help the homeless animals at the CPHS shelter.
For more information on the event, contact Dave Hopkins at 942-2477.