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Institute hosts chili cook-off for cancer research

| Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Harper Cancer Research Institute will be sponsoring its annual chili cook-off to benefit undergraduate cancer research in Harper Hall’s multipurpose room Wednesday from 4-6 p.m.

“It’s $10 that will get you unlimited tastes, and as I [have] said, when you leave you are not hungry,” Angela Cavalieri, who is heading the cook-off, said.

The cook-off has boasted a number of diverse chilis in the past, from dessert chilis to cheesy chilis, according to Jenna Mrozinske, another one of the cook-off’s organizers.

“One year, we had a faculty go to Wendy’s and get a huge tub of chili, and that was his entry,” Mrozinske said. “We were all like, ‘Wow this is so good,’ and I’m like, ‘I’ve tasted this before,’ and then he revealed ‘Oh, I just went to Wendy’s.’”

Cavalieri, who said she grew up in the Midwest with “one type of chili,” also said she remembers unusual chilis from past cook-offs.

“We’ve had an Argentine chili — which if you know anything about Argentina, they’re famous for their beef,” she said. “That particular chili looked like a giant ball of shredded beef.

“We had a chili with ghost peppers submitted by someone from Mexico City. He was kind of benevolent and let people know there were ghost peppers in that chili.”

Last year, Smoke Free St. Joe, a local organization working to help smokers quit smoking, brought a particularly unusual chili to the cook-off, according to Cavalieri.

“They brought a regular chili and what they called a ‘smoker’s chili’,” she said. “So one was a white chili and one was [representative] of somebody who smoked. I don’t know what they put in it. It was smoky.”

Sometimes the cooks will bring special “secret” ingredients, and attendees will try to guess what they used.

“We’ve had some secret ingredient chilis,” Cavalieri said. “Those are fun. Those are the ones where you taste it and you think, ‘That is delicious. What is that?’ and they disclose the secret ingredient.

“People have used coffee, they’ve used chocolate — things you don’t normally think.”

The event draws participants from both the South Bend and Notre Dame communities, from undergraduate students to children of faculty at the research institute.

“We consistently have entries by the Notre Dame fire department,” Cavalieri said. “There’s just something about the fire department and chili makers that just go together. Firemen are known for making excellent chili, and we generally have a couple entries from them.”

Though she said organizing the cook-off has not been too difficult, Mrozinske said finding the right type of sample cup for the event has been a challenge.

“Trying to find the right cup to serve chili has been the most challenging thing,” Mrozinske said. “You wouldn’t think it, but … you don’t want it too big because then people pour too much of a sample, and then they run out quick … but then you have to keep the cup from melting. They melted one year because the chili was so hot.”

Cavalieri said the organizers would like to attract more students to the cook-off.

“The only logistical challenge, I would say, is that some people think that Harper Hall is next to Florida because we’re down here on the south side of [East] Angela [Boulevard],” Cavalieri said. “We’re over by Eddy Street, so some people think it’s so far to walk. That’s the only thing. We would like to see more students come down for it.”

According to Mrozinske, the event not only helps raise money for researchers, but also allows the community to reflect on those who have been affected by cancer.

“ … [It’s] kind of a way to get the Notre Dame community together to reflect on those who’ve been impacted by cancer and spread awareness,” she said.

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About Natalie Weber

Natalie Weber graduated in 2020 from the University of Notre Dame, with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minors in journalism and computing. A native of Grand Junction, Colorado she most recently served as Managing Editor at The Observer. // Email: [email protected] // Twitter: @wordsbyweber

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