ST. ALBANS CITY — The jostling has gone on long enough, and this week four of the area’s first responder services are going head to head in a fiery duel for the title of St. Albans City’s best chili.
In the ring, we have St. Albans City Police, St. Albans City Fire, St. Albans 9-1-1 Dispatch Services, and AmCare serving up their best homemade chili recipes for residents to judge.
“It’s a friendly competition, but we’re definitely going to beat everyone,” Dispatch Supervisor Alisha Miles said.
The event was organized by Martha’s Kitchen president Bob Begeley and police Lt. Jason Wetherbee — who also serves on the board for Martha’s Kitchen — as a way to bring the St. Albans community and its first responders together for a cause.
For $25, each ticket holder will receive four 12-oz containers of nameless chili to fairly judge which department has the best from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25 at Martha’s Community Kitchen. Proceeds from the event will benefit Martha’s Kitchen.
“I’d like to think we’ve been involved and connected with the community, but we really want to step it up,” Wetherbee said. “So we figured, ‘Let’s do a friendly competition’ ... The more we can do in the community and the more we can get involved, the better off everyone’s going to be.”
In one corner, you have St. Albans 911 Dispatch team championed by Katie LaFlamme, Sabrina Pretty and the widely known queen of the crock, Miles.
Dispatch has had a rough season so far. After two Pinterest-inspired attempts to make the world’s best chili, the team have high hopes that their next batch will be the one to beat, especially with the addition of homemade canned garden tomatoes.
“This weekend, we’re trying out a creamy chicken chili,” Miles said.
But the female trio will have to watch their back, because their neighbors at the police department who are serving up Sgt. Joe’s homemade venison chili, made with meat from Wetherbee’s own whitetail deer that he harvested.
“I’m optimistic, but at the same time, we’ll see how it goes,” Wetherbee said. “We all have our own trade secrets.”
Wetherbee said the police department will be out in force during the cookoff, but the boys in blue have to bear in mind that one of their opponents eats, sleeps and breathes heat — and get paid for it.
“Jason usually pulls out some pretty good miracles,” said Fire Chief Matt Mulheron. “(But I’m) Feeling pretty confident. I think the fire department’s going to pull it off ... We have the bigger trucks.”
Mulheron’s homemade beef chili is dressed with a secret blend of spices, almost two dozen ingredients, and is bonafide deer-camp approved.
The recipe came to Mulheron as if by magic. The coveted recipe card included the mysterious words “Aunt Daya’s Chili,” and has earned him praise far and wide.
But even Aunt Daya may not be enough to save the city’s firemen from AmCare’s secret culinary weapon. AmCare Director Clem Roger spends his days perfecting his large-scale recipes for audiences on his “glamping” trips.
“I’m thinking I’m goings to throw a little Bobby Flay in there, but not too spicy,” Roger said. “We know he likes it spicy.”
Roger brings a passion and background of whole hog barbecue to the ring, and he perfected his chili recipe by constantly updating it with inspirations that he finds online to keep the flavor profile exciting.
While confident in his ability, Roger said he knows who his biggest threat to taking home the victory trophy might be.
“I’d put it on the police department,” Roger said. “I know they have a couple people who like to eat.”
In addition to sampling some of the best chili around, the first responder departments are showing up in style with their work vehicles for a community opportunity to see St. Albans’ finest all together.