Things get red hot downtown

Published 8:54 pm Thursday, November 6, 2008

FRANKLIN—When it comes to chili and decorating, the women on the Aesthetics by Naomi team really know how to mix it up.

The team, dubbed the Red Hot Chili Peppers, made a clean sweep of all three major awards at the Downtown Franklin Chili Cook-Off at Barrett’s Landing on Saturday — overall taste, people’s choice and booth decorating.

“This was my very first cook-off ever, and I am a freak for the Food Network channel,” team captain Naomi Koontz said. “They better look out, because I am the next Paula Dean.”

Koontz and her cohorts, Debbie Bryant and Katrina Esterly, mixed their batch of chili using ribeye steak, sausage, jalapeno peppers, chili peppers, chili powder, onions and lots of garlic.

“Most importantly of all, though, is that all ingredients were cooked freshly before being combined,” Koontz said.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers beat out nine other teams, which began setting up their booths around 7:30 a.m. Since everything had to be prepared on site, the cooks began working around 10 a.m. Judges and guests were able to taste and vote on the chili during the afternoon.

“There was a chili cook-off about five years ago and we wanted to do it again,” said Mable Parker, chief organizer of the event. “Everyone is having a wonderful time. It’s a beautiful day. Everyone took a lot of time and decorated their booths — some are dressed up as characters as a part of their theme. (It is) a nice event to bring the community together.”

When asked about the cook-off, Kyle Cousins of Fred’s Bean Brigade, which took second place in the judged competition, said, “This is the perfect time of the year to be out here cooking chili, having fun. They need to do this more often.

“I think they should do more cook-offs than just chili — maybe ribs, barbecue, anything really. If you watch the Food Channel you can come up with anything. Barrett’s Landing is the perfect spot to have these kind of events.”

Scott Seddon, team captain of Navy Fiesta Chili, said the atmosphere was friendly but competitive.

“A lot of the people in the booths are friends and work downtown, and the people that are cooking for them are all friends,” he said. “It’s a sort of family get-together — kind of a nice, friendly competition between family and friends — but I’m gonna win.”

Asked how he would describe the perfect chili, Seddon said, “Perfect chili has to be not too thick, not too thin, a little warm to the taste as far as spices and a medley of flavors. My chili has chicken, beef, and steak in it, and onions, peppers and five different beans. It’s all about all those tastes coming together.”