Academic Resource Center hosts first annual Harris College Chili Cook-Off


    Cloudy skies and breezy winds didn’t keep the kinesiology, nursing, communication science and disorders and social work departments from battling for chili supremacy on the Rickel Outdoor Patio.

    Christina Rector, academic advisor for health sciences, said the Academic Resource Center created the cook-off to create unity within the college. She said the four departments were chosen based on location.

    “Since our four departments are on three of the four corners of campus, we wanted to bring faculty, staff and students together in each area,” Rector said.

    Rector said the resource center is in its second year in the Harris College. She said the chili cook-off helps the center spread its name to students who seek academic advising, academic coaching and a career service liaison.

    Over 100 students judged six different chilis at the cook-off. Each student received a raffle ticket and tried a sample at each booth. Students gave their raffle ticket to their favorite chef.

    After all the votes were counted, the kinesiology chili reigned supreme.

    Dr. Stephanie Jevas, director of the athletic training program, and Elizabeth Pettijohn, an administrative assistant, represented the kinesiology department.

    “It’s called ‘Kick-Your-Butt Kinesiology Chili,’” Jevas said. “I would say it has a kick.”

    The spiciness came from Pettijohn’s homegrown poblano chiles.

    “They’re not too spicy, but it depends on what you feed them in the garden, too,” Pettijohn said.

    Although Dr. Maria Muñoz from the communication science and disorders department could not attend the cook-off, her chili won “Most Student Participation.”

    Sophomore speech pathology major Michal Olmstead said Muñoz’s chili had just the right consistency.

    “Another chili here was too liquidy,” Olmstead said. “This one had just the right amount of beef. The beans give it a good touch. The spice is pretty good.”

    Administrative assistant of social work Dee Casper won best costume.

    Casper said her three-meat combo makes her chili special.

    “It has chili meat, sausage and hamburger,” Casper said. “It warms your heart and warms your soul.

    Dr. Marinda Allender’s booth had a sign next to a plastic baby doll with hair on its chest that read, “This chili is the BEST. It will put hair on your chest!”

    Dr. Allender, director of undergraduate nursing, brought a unique twist in her “White Ghost Chili.”

    “We have white beans in the chili,” Allender said. “It has chicken and beans. Some call it ‘white chili.’”

    Two different chilis represented the Academic Resource Center.

    Zorraine Jones, director of the resource center, called her chili “Traditional Texas Chili.”

    “There are no beans in the chili,” Jones said. “There are jalapeños in there with some peppers and onions. It’s got a nice flavor with a little bit of it.”

    Rector also brought chili to represent the resource center.

    “I’m from the Midwest, and we put beans in our chili,” Rector said. “It’s one of my brother’s recipes, and it has a secret ingredient.”

    With every chili comes a mountain of toppings. Coordinator for the nursing academic excellence program Amanda Duvall brought a wide variety to the cook-off.

    “I like chili, but I don’t like to cook it,” Duvall said. “So this was the easy way to do it – let everybody else cook and I just come and partake.”