1st Annual Cookoff, Featuring–Next Level Chili

October 18, 2019

What is the hottest fun you can legally have in a busy, productive office? A Chili Cookoff.

Next Level Performance professionals saved room in their bellies and time on their calendars to taste our chefs’ chilis.

employee's homemade chilis for the annual cookoff contest
Some of the diverse chilis that ranged from sweet and mild to spicy wild!

The taste-testing began. Employees swept through the line and rapidly sampled the wide variety of homemade chilis. Once voting was complete, the staff swooped in again and ate their fill of delicious chili and side dishes including the traditional cornbread and tortillas. The 1st Annual Cookoff winner was announced at 1:30 pm.

employees engaged over hearty homecooked chilis
What a great employee engagement idea this turned out to be!

We are grateful for such a creative staff. They cheerfully demonstrated cooking skills, and generously gave their time, to the delight of teammates. The Cookoff was a living demonstration of our CARES* ethos, showing respect for co-workers while providing service.

Congratulations to Amanda Mauro, our 2019 Winner – Next Level Top Chili Chef! Prize: a restaurant Gift Card, and a Certificate of Appreciation!

employees who prepared chili for the cookoff

The Chefs

Our Chili Chefs, from left to right, beside the clever names of their delicious dishes:
Amanda Mauro, “Chili Chili Bang Bang” - Winner – Next Level Top Chili Chef 2019.
Paul Ruddy, “Meatlover’s Chili”
Jessika Vocht, “Scott Tenorman’s Copy Cat Chili”
Jim Heary, “Jaime’s Chili”
Jackie Leming, “Chili-liscious”
Amanda Mauro, “Chili Chili Bang Bang”
Cheryl Hammerschlag, “Cheryl’s Chili”
Jacqui Galella, “Frozen II: Not Frozen… Just a Little Chili”
Mario La Spina, “Chili a La Spina”

clever names given by the chefs to their chilis
The chilis were as unique as their names suggest.

The Real Winners

The entire staff were the winners… enjoying a hearty lunch and savoring time to relax with teammates.

2019 Chili Cookoff Organizer, Stacey Serrano, Sr. Client Success Manager (not pictured), had this to say...

“Thank you to all the chefs for pouring your hearts into your wonderful chilis! They were all excellent. How do we know? No leftovers.”

When asked if Next Level Performance should resume the Chili Cook-off in 2020, there was no reply. Everyone’s mouths were full.

If you've held employee engagement events that resonated well with your teams, we’d love to hear about it. We’ll admit that we can learn a lot from disaster stories, too… events that may have fallen flat or run off the rails. Please reach out via social media, or by using the contacts below!

How to cool your tongue after eating spicy food?

Bonus: in the spirit of helpfulness, our Editor researched some pointers on how to stop spicy food’s burning sensation in the mouth.

It takes a moment… a spoon of hot chili… wait for it… the burning sensation can make your eyes water. What to do for relief? How about some survival skills for the chili-lovers out there?

You can blame the chemical capsaicin for that “hot” sensation in your mouth. Once you’ve put the spicy food in your mouth, there’s no going back, but there are some ways you can relieve the pain quickly in the afterburn.

How to Chill the Chili

Water? Nope. Water will only spread the spicy oils, amplifying and spreading the burning sensation throughout your mouth.

Dairy – This is the magic mouth-soothing balm!

A sip of cold milk or a spoon of yogurt will soothe your mouth and take away some of the burning sensation. A protein called casein present in dairy helps to break up the capsaicin and offers some relief from its effects. Milk is your go-to beverage to quiet the flames of spicy foods. It’s often easy to find sour cream nearby, as a garnish for chili. Use it wisely.

Citrus can also soothe the savage burn!

Try drinking citrus juice. Cool your tongue by swishing a big swig of tomato, orange, or lemon juice in your mouth. The acid in these juices can help neutralize the pH effect of the spicy food you’re eating, for quick relief.

6 More Quick Ways to Tone Down a Dish That's Too Spicy
~Thekitchn.com

  1. Add more ingredients. Dilute the spiciness. The easiest way to tone down a dish that's too spicy is to add more ingredients to lessen the overall proportion of the spicy element.
  2. Add dairy.
  3. Add acid.
  4. Add a sweetener.
  5. Add nut butter.
  6. Serve with bland, starchy foods.

Additional relief from “chili heat” may result from laying the following foods on your tongue for a bit:

A Spoonful of Relief

  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Yogurt
  • Sour Cream (also good on top of the chili!)
  • Olive Oil
  • Starchy foods (rice, bread, crackers)
  • Chocolate (as if you need an excuse to eat chocolate! The fats and sugars of milk chocolate are very soothing!)

Be prepared. Have some of these remedies handy, so you and your guests can enjoy your spicy foods with gusto.

* C.A.R.E.S. Values shape attitudes and drive behaviors. The values expressed in our Next Level Performance core values acronym, CARES, are:
Collaboration – Enthusiastically work together with teammates and clients
Accountability – Willingly take ownership and responsibility for results
Respect – Treat our teammates like clients and our clients like teammates
Ethical Behavior – Do the right thing, every time, without hesitation
Service – Provide spectacular service to our clients and to our community

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