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Chili cook-off benefits hungry families
Second Harvest Food Bank chili event a huge success
Manteca Fire Captain Jeff Dennis serves a chili sample for JoAnn Jamerson. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Myles Weber and Michael Midgley were two participants at Saturday’s 5th Annual Harvest Food Bank Chili Cook off at the MRPS Hall.

Both Weber and Midgley are cooks at local restaurants in Manteca. They both felt like they had a legitimate chance at winning the competition.

“I can’t tell you my secrets,” said last year’s champion Weber, who works for his family-owned business Weber’s BBQ in Manteca. “Just a little love, that’s all. This is our second competition, and we’re trying to go 2-for-2.”

Midgley, on the other hand, works for Ernie’s Food and Spirits in Manteca. Although he’s a Stockton resident, Midgley’s grandmother has resided in Manteca for decades.

“I consider myself a Stockton-Manteca boy,” said Midgley, who was a featured contestant on Top Chef, Season 2. “I’m a competitor. But if I don’t win it — whatever. There are (19) other chilis, and may the best chili win. It’s all good, and it’s all for charity.”

The chili cook-off event raises funds to feed needy families through the Harvest Food Bank.

There were both experienced and not-so experienced participants, including 30-year old Manteca resident Kellen Kirk.

Kirk heard about the competition through a neighborhood website and decided to try the chili cook-off for the first time.

“I cook for a hobby at home,” Kirk said. “I’m the cook quite a bit at parties and barbecues, and my chili is always a hit. So I figured I’d try it out. Mine’s pretty basic, nothing special about it really. I think it tastes good and everybody that tries it likes it.”

Some of Kirk’s ingredients included actual beans, beef and some other undisclosed seasonings.

Midgley’s didn’t include beans.

“You got to leave the beans out and go old school Texas red and keep it consistent,” he said. “And I use actual chilies, not just chili powder. I rehydrated them, blended them up and strained them. It’s real chili and it’s hot. It’s not enchilada sauce.

“I used to be in the International Chili Society and do competitions to try and get to the world championships. Then I started having kids and not enough time, so now I work for Ernie’s. We actually serve Texas red chili in our restaurant.”

Weber’s BBQ in Manteca serves a variety of different items as well, including links, ribs, hot wings, chicken, corn bread and all side dishes. Myles was representing the local business well, although he wouldn’t share too much information or any of his secrets.

“I just let it marinate for 24 hours,” Weber concluded. “Mix it up, stir it up and add a little spices and you’re good to go.”

Cash prizes were awarded to the winner along with the top three finishers. There was also a silent auction and several raffle prizes.

Cash prized were $75 for third place and 4300 for first, not to mention the People’s Choice award, which awarded that winner $100.