Ravenna – I recently had the pleasure of being asked to be a judge at the February 12th Maplewood Culinary Students’ Chili Cook Off.  My fellow judges: Susan Crowell from Farm and Dairy, Dan Pompili from The Record Courier, and Maplewood School Board President Donna Karg, and I were treated to an amazing culinary experience.

The cook-off was held at the Maple Leaf Restaurant on the campus of Maplewood Career Center.  The restaurant is student-run and offers lunch every Thursday and Friday (when school is in session) to the public.

Eight teams of junior and senior students participated offering varied recipes of chili.  There was Home Style, Southwest Turkey Chorizo, Vegetarian Vegetable, Vegetarian Bean, Firehouse, Seafood, Chocolate, and White Chicken chilies.  The flavors were diverse and rich.

My personal favorite was the Southwest Turkey Chorizo chili.  Cumin, oregano, thyme, allspice and cinnamon were added to more traditional chili ingredients to give it a very unique, tantalizing taste.

In order for our panel to pick overall winners, we each individually scored our favorites using a point system then combined our results.  Our first through third place winners were a result of those tallies, even though a few of us had different individual first place choices.

Our judging panel’s overall first place choice went to the Seafood Chili.   Shrimp, scallops and fish coupled with the bite of fresh chilies made this entry stand out.  Second place went to the White Chicken Chili, and third place to the Fire House Chili.

The culinary program at Maplewood Career Center teaches and prepares students for jobs in the food service industry.  Instructors James Morrison and Daniel Remark teach everything: food prep, cooking, serving, bussing, and even handling the check and payment at the cash register.  The students do a great job running the restaurant and provide top notch service.

For more information on the Maple Leaf Restaurant, or to make a lunch reservation call 330-296-2892 ext. 551507, option 1.


Winning Recipe – Seafood Chili

2.5 lbs. Shrimp

2.5 lbs. Scallops

2.5 lbs. Fish, large dice

1 C. olive oil

1 T. Cumin

1 T. Curry

2 T. Chili Powder

1 T. Oregano

3 Jalapenos, chopped fine

5 Cloves Garlic, chopped fine

Add seafood to herbs and oil and lightly cook in large pot

2 large onions, crescent sliced

Head of celery, julienne bias cut

2 red peppers, sliced

2 green peppers, sliced

Add vegetables and continue cooking until translucent

½ gal. Seafood stock

1 gal. White beans, cooked or 2 #10 can  – pureed and added as thickener

Add to stock and beans to vegetable/seafood mixture.  DO NOT BOIL

Adjust seasoning to taste.

Reporter’s Favorite

Southwest Turkey Chorizo Chili

5 lbs. Ground turkey

½ C. olive oil

2 large onions, crescent sliced

2 C. celery, bias cut

2 red peppers, sliced

2 green peppers, sliced

2 T. paprika

2 T. chili powder

½ tsp. red pepper

2 T. garlic powder

2 T. onion powder

1 T. oregano

1 T. cumin powder

1 T. thyme powder

1 T. all spice

1 tsp. cinnamon

Sautee turkey, set aside in a large pot.  Sautee individually then add to turkey: onions, celery, and red & green peppers.  Add seasonings, heat until aromatic.

½ gal. Turkey stock

1 #10 can tomatoes, diced

1 #10 can pinto beans  DO NOT DRAIN

Add above to seasoned turkey/vegetable mix, heat thoroughly, adjust seasoning to taste.