LAKEHURST – For a dozen years the borough’s Historical Society has held its annual Soup-R-Bowl of Chili Challenge and this year’s event was just as hot.
The Lakehurst Community Center was once again the location for this sizzling event held before the actual Superbowl, where numerous area clubs and organizations made soups and chili and competed for the trophies of People’s Choice.
This year’s participants included: Our Special Klub of Toms River, Complete Care at Arbors, Lakehurst Elementary School PTA, Lakehurst Vol. Fire Co., Arista Care Cooking Club, Fleet Reserve Club 124, Lakehurst First Aid, Knights of Columbus #12940 and the Historical Society.
“We had another great tasting event again this year,” said Kathy Abrahamsen, who has chaired the event since its inception in 2008. “There were eight groups and organizations that prepared all kinds of soups and chili to compete for the bragging rights and the coveted travelling trophies of the 2020 People’s choice soup and chili winners.”
Frank Kearny and Douglas Steinke represented the KOC. This marked the group’s third year to participate. “We keep the basics but change it up a bit every year. This year’s is the winner,” Steinke said with confidence.
Lakehurst First Aid Squad member Marcy Guyer said the squad “has been participating in this every year for quite a long time.” This year’s entry was a meatloaf chili.
Janice Engle, the club manager of the Fleet Reserve Association noted that the event allowed the participating groups to share information about their respective organizations. “We support retired military and all veterans. We host holiday events, support the Lakehurst Police Golf Tournament, are involved with bicycle rodeos and collect items for gift baskets.”
As to her organization’s entry into the contest, it featured deer meat chili with hot peppers.
Bonnie McAuliffe is a member of both the Fleet Reserve Association and the Arista Care Cooking Club. She cooked up a large container of Chicken Cordon Bleu soup as part of the soup category of the event. “This marks five years that we’ve been involved. I only do soups but I did make the chili this year for the Fleet Reserve. Arista Care is a long-term acute care facility and I have lovely group of residents that help prepare the soup each year. Each year is different and we’ve picked up the judges award in the past.”
It was Taco Soup for the members of the Lakehurst PTA who also entered chicken chili for the chili category. “This is our third year entering. We won twice. I made the soup,” Tina Maikisch said.
Davina Dib presented some piping hot chili that she said residents of Complete Care at Arbors Resident Club helped prepare. “We’re based in Toms River and they really loved taking part in this. This is our first year for it.”
Milana and her son Dylan sported chef hats and had an Italian theme serving up lasagna soup. “We’re hoping to win the People’s Choice award this year. Last year we got the Judge’s Choice,” Kim Milana said.
Lakehurst Fire Co. Captain Matt Cadmus called his entry the Donners A Goner Chili. “This marked his first year to be involved. “I figured I’d give this a try. It’s made with love.”
“Our Special Klub started off in 1981 as Our Special Kids but they all grew up,” Joyce Abrahamsen of Toms River said. The group called Our Special Klub New Jersey, Inc. is a parent advocacy organization that provides social activities and educational experiences for adults with developmental disabilities. She was joined by her daughter Dannielle who added, “we do a lot of fun things and our big event is our Halloween party.”
There are 11 plates from previous winners on each large trophy. A secret panel of judges voted on a list of criteria and one Judge’s Choice Trophy was presented and can be kept by the winner. The proceeds of this event are for the benefit of the Historical Society Museum housed in The Old St. John’s Church on Center Street.
The event also offered a Gift Basket auction and 50/50 which added to the fun of the day.
Abrahamsen remarked, “the success of the Soup-R-Bowl of Chili Challenge is due to the area groups, clubs and organizations preparing the food and serving it up to the public. If not for their participation this event could not be possible. The prizes are generously donated by the society membership and area businesses.”
“The members of the Historical Society want to thank the participants of this year’s challenge. We also want to thank all the folks that came out on a windy rainy day to enjoy the food and fun and spirit of community. We had a record turnout,” Abrahamsen said.
- The winner of Peoples’ Choice Chili was The Fleet Reserve
- The winner of Peoples’ Choice Soup was Arista Care Cooking Club,
- The Judge’s Choice went to the Fleet Reserve Venison Chili
There was a tie for second place, both were for chili. The winners were, Lakehurst Vol. Fire Co., and The Knights of Columbus #12940. The hottest chili and the best table display went to the Lakehurst Vol. Fire Co.
Last year, Our Special Klub of Toms River and AristaCare Cooking Club won the travelling trophies, and Kim Milana from the Historical Society took home the Judge’s Choice trophy for her Bacon Cheeseburger Soup.
As to the taste testers who paid to sample the soups and chili, Susan Riis of Lakehurst said “I like a lot of flavor. It doesn’t have to be hot.”
Her friend Cindi Turner of Toms River said the best chili are those “that cook a long time.”