LEWISTON — At the 13th annual Chili & Chowder Taste Challenge 2016 fundraiser tuesday, $10 got you unlimited chili, chowder and cornbread. And for those who couldn’t fit all the tasting cups in their hands, muffin tins served as holders.

Longley Elementary School teacher Diane Wigant explained why some people at the event were carrying the tins.

“Three years ago, we started giving out the gifts for the first 100 people that get here,” she said. “That first year, we gave out muffin tins, because people kept asking, ‘How are we gonna carry all this stuff?’”

So this year, people in the know came prepared to collect lots of samples. 

Amanda DeFlumere, coordinator of the event and a kindergarten teacher at Longley, estimated that about 600 people attended.

“We had an even, steady flow of people,” Longley Elementary School teacher Courtney Wildes said. “Because Longley doesn’t have a PTA, there’s no one out raising money. This is how we can fund field trips and other fun activities for the kiddos.” 

Each participant’s entry was judged on taste and presentation. And the chili and chowder contestants came prepared with their tasty entries, some also offering a variety of tempting side dishes and desserts.

Governor’s Restaurant housed a proud display of cakes and cannolis while they spooned out samples of their buttery and creamy lobster chowder.

The Green Ladle supplied strawberries and melted chocolate for dipping, in addition to their never-ending trays of hot, fresh cornbread.

Rolly’s Diner, winner of the Best Display for the competition, offered a mountain of watermelons, hand-carved with dog faces.

Possibly the most unique entry of the evening was by Rails, with a chocolate/tequila/lime chili that leaves your mouth on fire — but the good kind.

Danielle Nadeau of the Hilton Garden Inn reminisced about her Chili & Chowder Taste Challenge memories.

“I was actually part of the LRTC class when we first did this, when we took all four categories,” she said. 

Chef Randall Smith from Pinky D’s Food Truck said he was excited to be there.

“We’re all over the place,” he said. “We do all the local festivals.”

Most of the restaurants and food centers have participated in the cook-off in previous years — if not all 13 of them — but Alabama’s BBQ crew seemed to be enjoying their first time in the contest.

Vincent Oden, owner of the southern-style barbecue joint, said he was pleased how the cook-off went.

“It’s more than what we expected,” he said. “We’ve done other chili and chowder events before, and this was much more professional and put together.”

Best in Show

• Governor’s Restaurant 

Best Display

• First Place: Rolly’s Diner 

• Second Place: Rails 

• Third Place: Bates College

Chili – Judges’ Choice

• First Place: Thatcher’s Restaurant and Pub

• Second Place: Fusion at The Ramada

• Third Place: The Hilton Garden Inn

Chowder – Judges’ Choice

• First Place: Odd Fellows Home of Maine 

• Second Place: Governor’s Restaurant

• Third Place: KP’s Place

Chili – People’s Choice

• First Place: Rolly’s Diner

• Second Place: Thatcher’s Restaurant and Pub

• Third Place: Governor’s Restaurant 

Chowder – People’s Choice

• First Place: KP’s Place

• Second Place: Governor’s Restaurant 

• Third Place: Odd Fellows Home of Maine


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