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Chili Cook-off supports Youth Services


Chili tastings, a live bagpipe performance, and trivia were some of the main attractions at Youth Services of Glenview/Northbrook’s fourth annual chili cook-off on Saturday, Jan. 30.

This year’s competition featured 15 teams with each serving an original chili recipe for the community to taste. Among those participating were not only policeman and fireman for Glenview and Northbrook but also local restaurants.

Northbrook Fire Station 10 won the cook-off in the end. More than 225 people turned out for a packed house and helped raise approximately $12,000 by the end of the night.

Amy O’Leary, director of Youth Services of Glenview/Northbrook, said it was nice seeing the community come out in support of the mental health agency.

“It’s a really casual event,” she said. “It gives us another platform for people to get to know who we are and what we do.”

The Glenview agency offers mental health counseling and other support services for children and adolescents. The chili cook-off is one of several fundraisers they organize to support community youth.

Paul Simmons, of Northbrook, came to the event with his wife, son and grandson. He said he was enjoying his time spent at the chili cook-off.

“(I like) the chili; the people that are here,” he said. “My grandson is loving it. Our grandson loves bagpipers.”

Simmons said it brings great meaning to see the community giving back to Youth Services.

“This organization should be funded by the government but it’s not,” he said. “ They do so much for the kids in counseling.”

Eleanor Walsh, of Glenview, was there with her husband and a group of friends made while at college or through marriage. She said as a team of eight, they all came together eager to compete in the trivia contest.

“(It’s) a great way to get our friends together,” she said. “Our friends come from Huntley, Cary, and Wilmette.”

She said it’s nice getting together with her friends to attend the chili cook-off since they’ve moved away and don’t live as close as they once did.

“It’s challenging and it’s for a good cause,” she said of the trivia contest and being in attendance for the event.

Sue Mosher, of Oak Park, said it was her second time going to the event and she enjoys being there.

“I love the chili tasting,” she said. “I love the trivia, it’s just kind of a fun thing.”

Mosher said it means a lot being able to attend the chili cook-off and give back to the community.

“That’s the best part,” she said. “[It’s such] a good cause and organization. My niece counsels them (adolescents and children dealing with mental health problems). I know there’s a big need so I feel very strongly about it.”

O’Leary noted that attendance for the chili cook-off had doubled.

“We definitely have a lot more people than last year,” she said of the chili cook-off. “It gets people out here and it gives them a chance to support Youth Services. Fundraising is important to us. We’re heavily reliant on it. We are seeing that referrals are increasing each year.”

O’Leary said in reviewing what the agency does for community youth, they noted a 20 percent increase in referrals.

Karen Paszkiewicz, special events coordinator at Youth Services of Glenview/Northbrook, said for many of those participating in the competition, bragging rights are at stake and that adds to the hype surrounding the event.

Every year at the chili cook-off, a trophy shaped like a cauldron is up for grabs. On that evening, a number of local policeman and firemen served as judges on a panel evaluating the various chili dishes.

Jose Torres, fire chief for the Northbrook Fire Department, was among those judging the recipes made available at the event. He said he was enjoying his time spent there.

“I like that the communities are coming together,” he said. “I like how family-oriented it is. There are a lot of people; it’s very welcoming; it’s a great cause.”

Andrew Siegel, owner at Zoup, was there with his wife competing in the chili cook-off. He said they run the restaurant together in Glenview and they decided to give the event a try.

“It’s a chance for us to get involved,” he said. “We’re still very new to the area.”

He said he hopes people will remember their chili recipe and stop by their restaurant to see what more they offer.

Russell Fulling, of Northbrook, was there with several of his friends. He said he was enjoying his time spent tasting chili and mingling.

“I tried all the chili,” he said. “I think I hit all the stations.”

He said he would attend the chili cook-off should it be held again next year.

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