Chili Cook-Off helps raise money for good causes


Patrons line up to taste a variety of chili at the third annual Brevard County Professional Firefighters' Chili Cook-Off that was held at The Avenue Viera on Feb. 16.

Chris Bonanno

t was a chili lover’s dream at The Avenue Viera on Feb. 16 as the third annual Brevard County Professional Firefighters' Chili Cook-Off was held in the shopping center’s Central Park.

Proceeds from the event, which also included a raffle, benefits both the Brevard County Firefighters Benevolent Association and Driven By Heart, a local non-profit supporting those with breast cancer in and around the Melbourne area.

There were 16 different kinds of chili, prepared mostly by Brevard County Fire Rescue personnel. There was at least one entry from the Rockledge Fire Department, according to event coordinator Christy Fleming, who indicated there were a number of different types of chili.

“It depends on the chili. There was one that I tried that it zings you right when it first gets to you and then it mellows out into a perfect-like good chili taste. And then there’s a couple of them that they want you to put sauce on that makes it spicier. So, some of them will send you for a loop.”

Brevard County Fire Rescue Chief Mark Schollmeyer noted that there was a wide array of chili at the event as well.

“This year, as opposed to the other two years, there’s a huge variety,” BCFR Chief Mark Schollmeyer said. “There’s spicy ones, there’s a lot of smoked meat chilis, some really good white chilis. So, it runs the gamut from traditional to creative.”

At the end of the day, winners in five categories were announced with Brevard County Fire Rescue firefighters taking home awards. They included:

Jeff Kozub
(Most unique chili)

• Chad Cawby
(Best white chili)

• Juan Navarez
(Best red chili)

• Dave Lincoln
(People’s choice); and

• Shayna Kirkpatrick (Overall winner)

“It’s super easy. I just put it in the crockpot for like eight hours,” said Kirkpatrick, who is based out of BCFR Station 26 in Port St. John and who made Mexican chicken chili. “It’s actually something that we eat all the time at the station when we have training.”

It was clear as to why Kozub won his award.

“It’s buffalo chicken blue cheese chili,” Kozub said of what he prepared. “I’ve kind of been making it, developing it over the past five years. It’s pretty much a work in progress type of thing.”