(from left) Mary Lou Hardy and Esther Masters help judge chili during a Chili Cook-off on Tuesday. Five entries were sampled by residents and members of the media.(Laurie Sisk/Tribune)
It wasn't your typical chili cook-off, though. In addition to determining a winner, the cook-off also gave administrators a chance to get an idea of what their residents might like served at the facility.
"We have a senior population," Executive Director Ginger Dierksen said. "Tastebuds change as we age and we would like to know what our older population likes. Some people make it real spicy and some don't. People don't really think about how your taste buds change. This is kind of an experiment, because we really don't know what the answer will be."
Dierksen said medications also change tastebuds and the way people respond to different flavors.
"It seems like not everybody, but a lot of older people find themselves taking different medications, so not only do our tastebuds change with age, but with medications as well," Dierksen said.
She said a lot of different factors go into how we taste foods, including whether or not a person smokes.
Dierksen said each entrant in the competition brought a printed recipe so the winning creation could be featured in Presbyterian Manor's next newsletter.
She said all the entries, save one, were prepared by employees of Presbyterian Manor.
"We opened it to the public; maybe we just didn't get the word out soon enough," Dierksen said.
She said the facility has sponsored a chili cook-off in the past, but it has been several years.
Chilis were judged by more than a dozen arbiters, including members of the local media. Each recipe was given a score from 0 to 10 in several categories, including appearance, flavor, uniqueness and whether or not it is health conscious. Total points from the judges were added to determine a winner.
First-place honors and a $100 prize went to Marilyn Adcock for her Crock Pot Chili, a traditional chili with mild spices. Julie Leek took second place and a $50 prize and Rita Peck took third place and a $25 prize, which she donated to the Presbyterian Manor activity fund. Adcock was the only non-employee entry in the cook-off and a daughter of one of Presbyterian Manor's tenants. Lauren Flater and Dierksen also entered their chilis in the competition.