By Jessica Marsala
ELLICOTT CITY – A young girl sampled a pot of chili named “OMG.”
She said it wasn’t that hot, but her face, mouth drawn in a circle and lips blowing, said otherwise.
Using five peppers – jalapeños, habaneras, ghost peppers, serrano peppers and red bonnets – “OMG” was one of the entries from 16 congregations in Howard County at the 4th annual Hotter Than Thou Chili Cook-off, held March 9 at Church of the Resurrection in Ellicott City.
The benefit raised more than $15,500 for Bridges for Housing Stability, a Howard County outreach which assists the homeless and those in danger of losing their homes.
Church of the Resurrection, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ellicott City, Christian churches and two Jewish temples all held cook-offs in their own congregations, with the winners then coming together on the first Sunday in Lent to vie for the “Golden Ladle” trophy, which went to the entry that brought in the most tips.
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According to Ken Barnes, Church of the Resurrection’s liaison to Bridges for Housing Stability, the parish’s Boy Scouts of America Troop 615 raised $900 and beat 11 other entries at the parish cook-off. Adam Albuerne, 17, said Troop 615’s beef chili, was inspired by his father’s Cuban heritage.
Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia brought the aforementioned “OMG” entry, which Jeremiah O’Donovan, a parishioner of St. Joseph, Sykesville, described as “really spicy” but with “kind of a smooth sweetness to it.”
There were vegetarian options, such as the one made by Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s Maura Maguire and her two children. Maguire jokingly promoted her couscous chili as the “healthiest one in the room.”
Some recipes were homemade, while others, such as the turkey and pumpkin chili of Bridges for Housing Stability board members Harriet Bachman and Bill Salganik of Bet Aviv Jewish congregation, were taken from newspapers and websites.
The Golden Ladle went to Glen Mar United Methodist Church, which received more than $3,300 in tips. The husband and wife team of Tom and Lisa Winter served top round beef and bean chili with smoked paprika, cocoa powder and mini hot dogs.
Gary Sutton, who worships at Glen Mar and sits on the Bridges for Housing Stability finance committee, wore a colorful sombrero and poncho, another reason that church also won Best Dressed table.
The event included a testimonial from a man who had received assistance from Bridges for Housing Stability.
“This is probably the one and only event,” said Barnes, of Church of the Resurrection, “where many Howard County churches come together in fellowship to raise money to support the homeless.”