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Cooks ‘here to win’ at Beaver chili contest

By Zorena Barker, Forum Correspondent

 

Jim Albertson of Port Angeles takes the labels off of his canned goods so nobody knows what goes into his chili.

 

“It’s very simple. I come here to win,” he said, intensity burning in his eyes like a chili pepper.

 

He won three years ago and it brought tears to his eyes and he did a victory lap around the Hungry Bear Cafe’s annual Chili Cook-off. This year, the 12th edition of the cook-off, he took second, minus the tears.

 

Yep, it can get a bit competitive among the contestants.

 

Amber Camp of Mount Vernon and Cindy Schrader of Forks share a cookstove and knives, yet this daughter and her mother are still competing against each other.

 

Schrader’s chili was a traditional red.

 

“I went simple this year,” when asked her ingredients. “I have used all kinds of stuff in the past; like home-canned tomatoes, bourbon, even a chocolate bar.”

 

Camp, on the other hand used the same recipe as last year.

 

“It is a turkey white chili because I like it and everyone else does a red,” she says picking up her son, Jackson (1-year-old), who is more helpful with the eating than the cooking.

 

The cooking had to be done by an explosion that signaled the 3 p.m. deadline.

 

Then each of the 13 contestants had to provide a sample for the seven judges chosen from the crowd.

 

The only requirement of judges being, as judge Rick Larson of Beaver put it, “We are people who love to eat.”

 

Shar Possinger of Port Angeles claimed it was the best job she’d ever had.

 

“It was a tough decision, but my favorite was No. 10 because it is spicy and flavorful, but the consistency is a bit thick,” Possinger said.

 

So who won?

 

Third went to Amber Camp, second went to Jim Albertson and the championship title went to Patricia Bolton of Port Angeles, whose proud husband of 40 years claimed,  “She ought to win, we ate chili five nights a week when we were first married!” he said.

 

Three shiny trophies were handed out by Woody Johnson of the Hungry Bear.

 

There is a whole lot more than chili going on here though.

 

“The people who do this are just awesome. It is a free event for the whole family and it draws a very diversified crowd,” said Joanne Albertson.

 

Indeed; children were running everywhere; grey hair, no hair, bright pink hair all mixed together; a tug-of-war rope was stretched and waiting; and the music of the Soul Ducks was noticeably getting into people as toes began to tap.

 

Gary Johnson and his wife, Debby, run the Hungry Bear with their adult children, Woody and Kimberly.

 

Gary remembers the first year when most of the crowd and cooks were his family.

 

Now it is more work, but they still know most of the crowd by name.

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