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Chili cook-off benefits 2nd Harvest
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Dad and Daughter first place winners Henry Lecour and Heather Bates also took a first-place award for their chili and for the appearance of their chili booth – totaling $300 in winnings. - photo by GLENN KAHL/ Bulletin

The Second Harvest Food Bank’s 11th Annual Chili Cook-off drew some 350 “eager tasters” to the Manteca Transit Center Saturday evening.

At stake was $900 in cash prizes for those judged to have made the best chili in various categories. The benefactors were struggling families throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley that rely on nearly 100 local food banks that Second Harvest supplies with food commodities.

The father-daughter team of Heather Bates and Henry Lecour took first place for their chili and the hottest, as well as the best decorated table award garnering $300.  Heather is from Tracy and her dad lives in Manteca.

Heather is a preschool teacher at the Bella Vista Christian Elementary School in Tracy and her dad is a terminal operator with Nustor Energy in Stockton.  It was their third year to enter the cookoff. 

Aimee Campbell won the People’s Choice award at her “One Hot Momma” booth. She took home $150 for second place and $50 for the People’s Choice designation.  

The “Bad News Beans” chili by Todd and Teri West took third place and a monetary award of $50.  

The guests milled around the silent auction and were partaking of the live auction with Chris Teicheira serving as the auctioneer.  Louise Little of Keys had the winning bid of $460 for a flat screen TV donated by Walmart.  Doug Zirple was the next highest bidder in the auction paying $400 for a set of tickets including the Policeman’s Ball, Empty Bowls fundraiser dinner in Modesto and for next year’s Chili Cookoff. 

Wearing their crowns and sashes, the royalty from Manteca Youth Focus welcomed the crowd at the front doors handing out their plates, napkins and plastic utensils before picking up raffle signs and hawking raffle tickets.

Professional chef John Mangelos from Ripon and three-time chef for the Olympic Games said he plans to be in the contest next year when he doesn’t have a relative’s wedding scheduled.  Mangelos said it sounds like a lot of fun.

Of special note was the booth belonging to Duane and Brian Hoerth.  Duane was a Manteca Police officer some 25 years ago when he was badly injured in an off-duty motorcycle accident in Tracy. His motorcycle ran off the road and into a fence post due to a mechanical malfunction causing the loss of the use of his legs.  He went on to serve as a dispatcher with the Tracy department for many years where his brother Brian was a patrolman – recently retired. 

The two men are the sons of the late Captain Dennis Hoerth who served many years in the department as an early canine officer in Manteca and was involved in the first police canine trials held at the Shasta Elementary School grounds on North Powers and East Edison avenues. 

The net earnings for the chili fundraiser are going towards purchasing protein and produce for some 90 agencies that offer food closets in their respective communities..

To contact Glenn Kahl, email