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Westport Firefighters Crowned Chilifest Champions

Vendors hand out samples at Chilifest in Westport.
Vendors hand out samples at Chilifest in Westport. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman

WESTPORT, Conn. – Hundreds of people gathered at Bedford Middle School in Westport on Sunday for Chilifest , where they picked the best chili from restaurants and firehouses across Fairfield County.

Southport Brewing Company, with locations in Southport, Milford and Branford, won the Classic Beef category, which also included submissions from Black Cat Grille in Redding, defending champion Bobby Q’s of Westport, Chilibomb in Fairfield, Little Pub of Greenwich, Ridgefield and Wilton, and Old Post Tavern of Fairfield, which placed second with their “Deflated Super Bowl Chili.”

SBC entered with a Maple Stout Chili made by co-owner and master brewer Mark DaSilva. The winning recipe included SBC’s brewed stout.

“We wanted to blend the best of our brewery and kitchen,” said DaSilva. “We’ll have to figure out how to share this trophy at all three locations.”

Geronimo of Fairfield and New Haven was the winner of the Creative Chili category. Their Hatch Green Chile beat entries from the Boat Yard BBQ & Grille of Stamford, second-place winner Cask Republic of New Haven and Stamford, the Chef’s Table of Fairfield, Liquid Lunch of Shelton and Milford, and Simply Delicious of Norwalk.

“I tweaked our recipe a bit,” said Geronimo Chef Tim Scott. “I’m glad I did as the competition was top notch.”

The most-heated competition of the day was a new category that featured the culinary talents of local firefighters. The firefighters of Westport won by less than 30 votes, edging out departments from Bridgeport, Weston and Rowayton.

“We entered our Checkered Flag Chicken Chili,” said chef and firefighter Toby Ostapchuk. “It’s been a longtime favorite of the department so we decided to enter it. We call it checkered flag because the black and white beans makes it look like a checkered flag. I hope more fire departments enter next year. It was a lot of fun.”

Attendees also go to sample mini-tiramisu from the Greens of Cannondale, and Tony Aitoro of Aitoro Appliances in Norwalk handed out his famous chocolate chip cookies.

Sponsors Stop & Shop and Volvo of Westport provided relief to attendees by serving water and handing out mints.

More help was provided by the men’s club at the Unitarian Church in Westport and more than a hundred student athletes from Sacred Heart University football, women’s hockey, women’s golf and equestrian teams.

The volunteers helped with parking, sold and accepted tickets, separated recycling and compostable waste, worked with restaurants and tabulated votes.

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