Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Competition heated up for cook-off

on February 09, 2014 1:54 AM

The Blairsville Elks and the Ladies Auxiliary of the Friends of Blairsville Parks & Recreation Foundation sponsored a Chili Cook-off Feb. 1 at the Elks Club.

A panel of judges selected the best chili and a People’s Choice Award went to the team that garnered the most votes during the tasting. Showmanship awards were also presented. Judging the event were Blairsville Mayor Ron Evanko; Jim Struzzi, president of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce; chef John Mitchell; chef Dennis Gehly, of the Indiana County Technology Center; and Chef Rhonda Braatz.

Braatz, who has been in the restaurant and catering business for many years, has managed restaurants in Stowe, Vt.; Cape Cod, Massachusetts; and Scottsdale, Ariz., and has catered for Art and Greta Rooney, Tommy Hilfiger, Theresa Heinz and others. Recently, Braatz and her husband operated The James Campbell House in Blairsville as well as a wellness/exercise ministry ( She currently serves as a chef/nanny for a professional family in Greensburg and continues to work on developing a line of specialty signature sauces that will be available in the future.

Funds raised through the cook-off will be used for local community projects.

Music for the event was provided by Brozeski Music.

Sisters Linda Banner and Donna Rudman won the Judge’s Favorite award and the People’s Choice Award with their “GG’s Home Style Chili.”

Second place for Judge’s Favorite went to Dee Spencer for “Spence’s Famous Chili,” and third place went to Michele Skultety for “Chilli’n @ the Beach.”

Skultety also took the Showmanship Award, which was based on festive decorations, attitude, audience appeal and showmanship skills. Banner and Rudman earned runner-up honors and Cis Ottie was third.

Having finished in all three award categories, Banner and Rudman shared their chili recipe, which was created by their mother, Catherine Kosmach (1916-2007).



GG’s Home Style Chili

2 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef

2 cups onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups total of green, red and yellow peppers, chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 large can of whole tomatoes, smashed

1 large can crush tomatoes

1 large can tomato sauce

Can of each chili beans, mild or spicy; light red kidney beans; dark red kidney beans, undrained

1 tablespoon of Gravy Master

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 tablespoon Penzey spice Chili 9000, more to taste

1 envelope of Lipton’s beefy onion soup


Brown and season the beef with salt and pepper and drain the excess fat off.

Add onion, peppers, garlic and celery and cook until soft. Add all tomatoes, the Lipton dry soup, chili powder, Chili 9000 and Gravy Master. Cook for 30 minutes over medium heat, stirring often.

Add the undrained kidney beans and mix well.

Always taste the chili; you can always add more seasonings.

Put in oven for one hour at 350.

Serves 6 to 8




1. Donna Rudman, of Monroeville, was part of the winning team with her sister, Linda, of Mount Pleasant. 

2. Seth Ross, of Blairsville, competed in the event. 

3. Dee Spencer took second place. 

4. Ruth and Dave Brozeski, of Blairsville, handed out their "Blasting Best Chili."

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