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Chili cook-off supports cancer research

| Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The delicious scent of home-cooked food filled the air at Harper Hall on Monday afternoon as the Harper Cancer Research Institute hosted its second annual chili cook-off.

With an admission fee of $10, attendees were welcomed to sample different varieties of homemade chili and vote for their favorites. A small bake sale ran concurrently to help taste testers take the heat out of the chili they consumed.

news teaser 2Keri O'Mara

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Harper team taking part in Notre Dame’s Relay for Life, a campus and community fundraising walk in April dedicated to fighting cancer.

On the origin of the cook-off, Jenifer Prosperi, co-organizer and assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM-SB), said, “I wanted to have a chili cook-off with just my lab, and we were trying to decide where the funds would go to. It was about the same time we were talking about Relay for Life and needing a fundraiser.”

Last year, the cook-off raised $400, Prosperi said.

Co-organizer Jenna Bilinski, administrative assistant at the Harper Cancer Research Institute, said, “I would say last year we probably had 12 or 13 chili entries. This year we have 19.”

Staff from the Notre Dame Fire Department were seen quickly dropping off their pot of chili at the venue before returning to work.

“There are professors, students, researchers … even an eight-year-old,” Bilinski said, referring to the diversity of the chefs.

That eight-year-old, Matias Jayden Dahl, said: “I wanted to make chili; Mommy helped me. [I wanted to make this] because it’s my Grandma Sandy’s homemade recipe.”

20150209, 20140209, Chili Cook-off Harper, Kat RobinsonKat Robinson

Participants and taste-testers enjoy homemade chili during the Harper Cancer Institute’s second annual chili cook-off. Proceeds benefit the Institute’s Relay for Life team.

Other featured chefs include last year’s cook-off champion Tracy Vargo-Gogola, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at IUSM-SB.

“[I am here] of course to win again,” Vargo said jokingly. “It’s such a great cause.”

First-time chef participant David Boone, IUSM-SB associate professor of microbiology and immunology, said: “I’m supporting cancer research here, and I think it’s important to be part of the community. We do social things together.”

Boone made a sweet chili consisting of pudding, brownies and cherries with a topping of jelly beans and coconut shreds.

“You can’t please everyone, though,” he said, just as a little girl exclaimed “I hate cherries.”

“You should try my chili last, as a dessert,” he laughed.

According to the Notre Dame Relay for Life website, this year will mark the fundraiser’s 11th anniversary. Apart from walking around a track, there will be a number of activities for adults and children at the Compton Family Ice Arena the evening of April 17, including a silent auction, ice skating, food and a luminary ceremony “to honor and remember those who have or have had cancer.”

A press release dated January 30 stated the Notre Dame relay has already raised more than $1 million overall for the American Cancer Society (ACS). The ACS has awarded the University with 13 research grants, worth more than $4.7 million to date, to allow “faculty and students the ability to conduct innovative cancer research.”

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About Samuel Chan

Samuel Chan is a sophomore exchange student from the University of Hong Kong, double majoring in journalism and marketing. He lives in Knott Hall and has spent his life back and forth between Hong Kong and the East Coast.

Contact Samuel