Heating up: Chili Fest & Wings to feature at least 15 contestants

Duncansville Police Chief Jim Ott likes a little kick to his chili, but too much heat can ruin the taste.

“You must have enough spice in it to have pizazz, but too much … destroys the flavor. And I’m all about flavor,” Ott said.

He should know; he has won first place six times in chili competitions, and he will be back at the 2017 Chili Fest & Wings benefit for the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society on Saturday, Jan. 28, with his winning recipes for chili, as well as wings.

He is one of about 15 contestants that will participate in the friendly competition that is expected to draw 500 guests to the Bavarian Aid Society, said Becky Felton, director of outreach and development for the society.

Tickets are $15 each and are available in advance at the Humane Society at 1837 E. Pleasant Valley Blvd. in Altoona, as well as at Rustic Country Furniture in Juniata and Thompson’s Pharmacy stores in Altoona and Hollidaysburg. Tickets also will be available at the door, Felton said.

She said contestants who want to enter the competition or supporters who want to sponsor the event, may call 936-6731 or 931-4399.

This is probably the 16th year of the annual chili festival, which was suspended for a few years before returning permanently four years ago, said Paul Gottshall, humane police officer for the Humane Society.

In addition to sampling wings and chili, guests will be entertained by the band Shallow 9 and have access to a cash bar, raffles, door prizes and more. Judges will include WTAJ anchor K.C. Kantz and Altoona Mayor Matt Pacifico, and attendees can vote to elect a “people’s choice.”

Ott said he participates in the Chili Fest for several reasons.

“My passion is cooking,” he said. “It’s relaxing and entertaining for me. And, I like to do competitions. … I also like to work with the Humane Society. I know that it’s always a struggle for any organization to have enough funding to do what they do.

“I can take care of my passion, contribute to their fundraising event and have a good night of fun.”

Ott said his cooking success comes from testing and testing.

“I’m not a measured cook. My (chili) recipe is not written down,” he said. “I can tell you what all is in it. It comes down roughly to amounts that I throw together, sample test and fine-tune it until I get it where I want it.”

Felton offered her favorite recipe: Brown one pound of hamburger and one large chopped onion. Sprinkle with Worcestershire Sauce, salt, pepper and garlic powder, and stir in two cans of diced tomatoes (flavored if you like), two cans of kidney beans, and one can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. Add chili powder, chopped jalapeno peppers or hot sauce, “depending on how hot you like it,” Felton said.

Proceeds from the festival will benefit the Humane Society’s general operations and day-to-day running of the shelter, which takes in 1,500 to 2,000 unwanted and abandoned animals every year, according to Felton.

The organization receives no government support or financial assistance from other national rescue groups and relies solely on donations from the community and fundraisers such as the Chili Fest.

Mirror Staff Writer Cherie Hicks is at 949-7030.

If you go

What: Chili Fest & Wings

Where: Bavarian Aid Society, 112 S. 13th St, Altoona

When: 6 to 10 p.m., Jan. 28

Admission: $15

Tickets/More info: Central Pennsylvania Humane Society, 942-5402, info@central pahumane.org