PAW, Brandywine Music Department to host chili cook-off

Published 1:40 pm Friday, December 3, 2021

NILES — A local organization and an area school district have cooked up a tasty way to support each other’s causes.

Performing Arts Workshops Inc. and the Brandywine Community Schools’ choral and band department will host the first annual PAW x Brandywine Music Chili Cook-Off at 11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 12, at Brandywine Middle/High School immediately before the 2021 Brandywine Choral and Band Holiday Concert, which will begin at 2 p.m.

A bake sale with assorted baked goods will also be available for purchase. Awards will be presented in four categories: People’s Choice, Judge’s Choice, Most Creative Chili and Best Decorated Table.

The cost of entry is $25 per competitor and $10 per chili taster, with proceeds going to PAW and the Brandywine Music Program. Readers looking to enter as either a Competitor or Community Taste Tester are asked to register at

Brandywine Band Director Ruth Livengood, who was approached By PAW about hosting a holiday cook-off fundraiser to benefit both programs, is excited for the event.

“It’s the thought that counts,” she said. “To be thought of and to see people not directly involved volunteering their time and effort to launch this is really neat, especially considering the world times and the pandemic.”

The contest is a welcome holiday event for PAW board member and professional chef Daysha Amster. Amster, who trained at the Art Institute of Seattle, choreographs dances for local school musicals and show choir.

“I think it’s cool that the arts bring us all together,” Amster said. “This will be a good event to have before the holidays. It’s a neat way to get involved and be a part of something bigger.”

PAW aims to enrich the next generation of performers with the necessary life skills to be productive, responsible and innovative members of the Niles community and the world. Brandywine Middle/High School hosts the workshops.

According to Amster, Jim’s Smokin’ Cafe, The Prized Pig and Jay’s Lounge are among the businesses who have agreed to participate this far. Amster will also be on the panel of event judges and is looking forward to seeing what the Niles community cooks up.

“I’ve entered quite a few contests in the past,” she said. “I love to see unique entries. Chili is chili, people tend to go for family recipes. I like to see what people create and what they do outside of the box.”

Rules for competitors:

  • Arrive at 9:45 a.m. Dec. 12 at 9:45 with chili hot and ready
  • Chili must be made in a certified kitchen per local health department
  • Bring table to set up and decorate
  • Bring one- or two-ounce ladle for serving chili
  • Bring clean up supplies
  • Bring and wear single-use disposable gloves at all times
  • Maintain a chili heat of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit at all times per local health department
  • Submit at least five gallons of chili to compete
  • Be ready to serve chili at 11 a.m.

Guide for tasters:

  • Arrive at 11 a.m. Dec. 12
  • Check in at the check in table and receive a chili tasting kit
  • Tasters will have the option to taste two ounces of each chili entry
  • Once they have tasted all of the chilis, they will fill out a community chili tasters form and cast votes at the check-in table