You could take it “Hot” or “Not So Hot.” Either way, the Graafschap Fire Department entries in the annual Cow Hill Yacht Club Chili Cook Off on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, went like hot cakes.
The fire department, known in the culinary world for its wildly popular pancake breakfasts, brought eight gallons of homemade chili to the fundraiser at Wicks Park in Saugatuck and were cleaned out by the end of the afternoon contest.
“It went really well. We did not win anything, but it was good to interact with the public. We even met some of our fire district residents,” said chili creator Dave Grumney, Captain, Training & Health/Safety for the Graafschap Fire Department.
Grumney cooked the two types of chili, a recipe he calls “Cowboy Beans” passed down to him by another firehouse cook. He’s been making the fall-season staple for 35 years.
“We each give it a twist to make it our own,” he said. This year, some special ingredients included peppers and tomatoes from his garden.
Grumney and Angie Schultz dished out small dishes of the chili to a steady line of samplers under the tent. The 17 entrants ringed the tables as the band Rock Shop performed.
About 900 people attended, according to Ken Trester of the yacht club.
Here are the winners:
Traditional: First place – Saugatuck Brewing Company; Second place – Barge; Third place – The Butler and What Not Inn.
Unique: First Place – Barge; Second place – Bowdie’s Chop House; Third place – Duck Alley.
People’s Choice: Wicks Park Bar & Grille.
About the groups
Cow Hill Yacht Club is a local nonprofit organization formed in 1976 with the goal of assisting the less fortunate in the area. All cook-off proceeds go to help local families.
The Graafschap Fire Department, which serves all of Laketown Township and part of Fillmore Township, offers free home safety inspections, free blood pressure checks on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon at the firehouse, 4534 60th St., short- and long-term rental inspections, and quarterly blood drives.
Each Independence Day, the department hosts a community breakfast at the fire hall.
For more information, call the department’s non-emergency number at (616) 396-4060 or visit www.laketowntwp.org.