Twenty-five chili chefs will test their recipes on the discerning palates of local celebrity chefs this Sunday at the 4th annual Opportunity Knocks Chili Cookoff at Healy’s West Side, 7321 Madison St. between noon and 4 p.m.
Jeff Mauro, the Food Network’s “Sandwich King;” Paul Virant, head chef/owner of restaurants Vie and PerrenialVirant; and Erik Freeburg, chef de cuisine at Bar Toma and former sous chef at Spiaggia will judge the chilis, which the public will be able to try for a suggested donation of $20. The ticket will include all-you-can-eat chili, appetizers, dessert and drink specials. The contest was limited to 25 entrants and registration is now closed. The group will raffle off a one-week Mexican vacation, Blackhawks tickets and a tablet computer. Organizers say they expect several hundred guests at their first event of 2012.
Opportunity Knocks formed six years ago and runs a recreation program at the River Forest Community Center for disabled adults, age 15-30. Over the long term, the organization wants to develop job-training programs and residential opportunities as well, Executive Director Michael Carmody said at last year’s chili cookoff.
“The goal is to be a mini-Misericordia (a North Side Chicago nonprofit home and center for disabled adults) in this area,” Carmody said.