For The Love Of Scouting – And Chili, Too
Everybody’s got an opinion about chili, and 16 entrants tried to woo the crowd at the Huntington Elks Lodge to their way of thinking on Saturday as they raised money to make this summer brighter for kids in need.
The Nickolas Demidovich Memorial Fund’s third annual chili cook-off raised thousands of dollars that will be used to send local Boy Scouts who otherwise couldn’t afford it to summer camp.
Melville’s Peter Demidovich, exalted ruler of the Huntington lodge, said the event was inspired by the memory of his late father and his devotion to scouting. Nickolas was the committee chair of Troop 106, which is sponsored by the Huntington Elks, from the mid-1980s until he died in 2006. He was also an Elk in the latter years of his life.
“After he passed away, people donated money… They made it out to Troop 106,” Demidovich said.
Instead of keeping the money for general Boy Scout expenses, troop leaders launched a foundation in 2009 to help cover summer camp costs. Last year the foundation sent a dozen kids to Boy Scouts summer camp by picking up the $600-$700 bill. More money will come in this July through an annual pancake breakfast.
“It’s quite a bit of help for people who are struggling,” he said. “It’s a lot of money.”
The elder Demidovich always loved to eat, Peter recalled, and he got the idea for a chili cook-off during a real estate convention when one of his colleagues discussed a chili party he held every year.
Last year, Mother Nature had her way and dumped snow on Long Island right before the contest. But with clearer skies in 2014, a full roster of 16 was on duty and dishing out their best – spicy, sweet and everything in between – as well as the stories behind their recipes.
Dix Hills’ Mike Terrone was one of the hardy souls who slogged through the snow to participate last year. He got his start making chili just a few years ago with Boy Scouts Troop 106, and was a hit this year with a sweet and hot recipe. The key? Diced mangos.
“It goes so well with the heat,” he said. “Mangos and the habaneros.” The judges agreed – the panel, including Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci, WBAB afternoon drive personality Fingers, and this reporter, named his best overall.
Chris McKeown came prepared with delicious chili – and a container of Tums.
“I’m going to be popular by the end of the night,” he quipped.
Turns out he was, but for another reason – he won the people’s choice title for best overall.
John Tramposch’s entry reflects a lifestyle change. The Exalted Ruler of the Islip Elks Lodge said he adapted his traditional recipe after being diagnosed with diabetes eight years ago.
“At first I was very depressed, and I said, ‘You know what? I’ve got to learn to eat within my means’,” he said.
Meanwhile, East Northport’s David Nodell may have driven the farthest for ingredients – he hunted the deer he used in his recipe during a recent Midwest hunting trip.
Others turned to the bar for a base. Huntington resident Gigi Bowman’s recipe for Irish Chili, crowned with mashed potatoes, calls for 45 oz. of Guinness – “Guinness is good for cooking,” she explained. And Jim Ruppert’s “Jack Daniels XXX Rocky Mountain Badass Chili” pays homage to where he dreamed up the recipe as well as a key libation in the recipe.
Melville’s Jack Stein, who is a longtime chili chef, instead called in reinforcements – a saucy puppet named Sleeezyanna who will appear at the lodge’s ventriloquist’s show in late March. Why bring the flirtatious puppet to the event?
“Well, she cooked it,” he teased. “And ventriloquism really goes with anything.”