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Westport Dishes Up Sizzling Comfort Foods At MacChilifest

Westporters come out to judge chili and mac & cheese at Sunday's MacChilifest.
Westporters come out to judge chili and mac & cheese at Sunday's MacChilifest. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Ballot counters at Sunday's event are dressed as referees as part of the Super Bowl theme.
Ballot counters at Sunday's event are dressed as referees as part of the Super Bowl theme. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Westport comes out to judge chili and mac & cheese at Sunday's MacChilifest.
Westport comes out to judge chili and mac & cheese at Sunday's MacChilifest. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Westport comes out to taste — and judge — the chili and mac & cheese at Sunday's MacChilifest.
Westport comes out to taste — and judge — the chili and mac & cheese at Sunday's MacChilifest. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
A group of local students attends Sunday's event.
A group of local students attends Sunday's event. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Preparing the mac and cheese.
Preparing the mac and cheese. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
One of the chili teams serves up the goods at Sunday's event.
One of the chili teams serves up the goods at Sunday's event. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Westport comes out to judge chili and mac & cheese at Sunday's MacChilifest.
Westport comes out to judge chili and mac & cheese at Sunday's MacChilifest. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Westport comes out to judge chili and mac & cheese at Sunday's MacChilifest.
Westport comes out to judge chili and mac & cheese at Sunday's MacChilifest. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman

WESTPORT, Conn. — Super Bowl Sunday’s Chowdafest grew so big it needed an outdoor — and summer — home. So Chowdafest’s creator, Jim Keenan, served up the Chilifest before last year’s Super Bowl.

This year, he added a new twist: A new category of mac and cheese chili, with seven restaurants competing. And so was born the MacChilifest.

The event served up specialty chilis from 17 restaurants and two fire companies. And it was all to help a nonprofit, the Shelton-based Turtle Shell Fund.

My wife and I walked into Bedford Middle School, got our ballots and our pencils and headed the cafeteria to sample as many of the 20-plus chilis as good judgement allows and cast votes for our favorite in each of the three categories.

There were the Classic Beef chilis and Creative chilis in addition to the Mac and Cheese chili.

Our first taste was CHILIBOMB's Pulled Pork Mac, which won second place — behind Jack Mac from Simply Delicious of Norwalk, and ahead of DrewbaQ Food Truck’s Q Bowl Mac.

“The new mac and cheese category was a hit with kids of all ages,” Kennan said.

Among my favorites were those with a bite, CHILIBOMB’s other offering, Texas Peacemaker, which won the Classic Beef category, and Geronimo's Hatch Green. Both had kickin’ green chiles from New Mexico’s Hatch Valley. And not to be overlooked, last year’s winner, Southport Brewing Company’s Maple Stout, took third place.

On to the firehouse chilis — Westport’s Greens Farms Firehouse Chili and the Weston Volunteer Fire Department’s offering. I’m a Westport homer, but Weston’s tasty chili won second place in the Classic Beef category.

In the Creative Chili Category, Little Pub of Wilton’s Moroccan Picadillo won, Liquid Lunch of Shelton served a tasty cinammony chili, Pumpkin Brisket, and won second, with Old Post Tavern of Fairfield coming in third with Pat’s Smokehouse chili, where I almost took thirds.

A few people came prepared with muffin tins. One young couple, Catherine and Matt Takovich from Norwalk, weren’t in deep enough to volunteer a best, but Catherine called Mac It’s “Soooo good.”

We stopped for a bit of Tiramisu mid way, then again, on our way out — terrific!

“Many people said they thought the chili's were even better than last year,” Keenan said.

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