Chili Cook-Off announces judging panel


On Saturday, Sept. 24, 20 contestants will be firing up their kettles and creating their best chili in hopes of taking home the top prize of $1,000 during the 15th Annual Simon Kenton Chili Cook off Festival in Urbana.

Judging the chili this year will be restaurant owners, a judge from the first Chili Cook-off Festival and a retired chef owner of a restaurant consulting firm.

Brad Winner is a local restaurateur, who, along with his family owns and operates MIXX165 restaurant in Mechanicsburg and markets in Clark, Champaign and Logan counties. Brad has been in the food and beverage industry most of his life, starting in the grocery segment and now primarily focusing on the prepared food and alcohol segments.

Brad grew up in Urbana, lived several years in Columbus and returned to Urbana in 2017 to start a family. In May 2021, they welcomed their son Jack into the world.

Brad said he is excited to participate as a judge in the 2022 Chili Cook-Off.

“This is an event that I’ve enjoyed as an attendee for many years. It’s going to be a cool experience to get to taste all these delicious recipes!” he said.

Jamon Sellman is a local insurance agent and brewery owner who has traveled much of Central America, South America and Europe and lived in Chile for three years where he experienced Mediterranean-style foods built on fresh ingredients and big flavors. He has found that the food is consistently the most intriguing piece of the travel experience, and he is adventurous in his food choices.

“I judged in 2021 with a diverse panel of judges with differing levels of experience. Thank you for having me again.” said Sellman.

Jeramiah Stocksdale is co-owner of the new Pequenos Tapas and Wine Bar opening soon on the square. He has worked for many years on the Chili Festival committee and has enjoyed sampling the contestants’ chili through the years. He is amazed at the variety of chili recipes submitted and how different they can be.

Jeramiah is known for his green chili, but, also, enjoys the standard red chili.

“I am excited to be included in the judges panel this year,” said Jeramiah.

Bryan Thompson, owner of The Medicine Shoppe and Resident Care Pharmacies, is also co-owner of the new Pequenos Tapas and Wine Bar. Bryan enjoys trying new foods and dining in unique restaurants. He was a judge in the first Chili Cook-Off event and enjoys coming back every year as a patron.

“I can’t wait to judge again this year and to also bring a new flavor and atmosphere to downtown Urbana with Pequenos,” said Bryan.

Jonathan Kouse, a working chef for 40 years, has turned his focus into helping restaurateurs with everything from concept ideas and equipment procurement to menu design and everything in between. His company, Chef Therapy Group, is the answer for restaurants which are struggling as well as those starting out. Jonathan was the inspiration behind the Pequenos Tapas and Wine Bar and brought the concept to the investors. He has a strong background in Mexican/South American cuisine and his wife, of Portuguese descent, was his inspiration for the idea. He is excited to be included in the judging panel.

The Simon Kenton Chili Cook-Off and Hoopla Parade is sponsored by the MSD organization and is held in the first two blocks of North Main Street in downtown Urbana. The parade begins at noon.

Submitted story

Info from event organizers

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