Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew

Chamber’s outdoor cooking
competition heats up city streets

Regular participants look forward
to fun and competition

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(October 2009) – There is an old saying that “too many cooks spoil the soup.” Just the opposite is true, however, at the Madison Presbyterian Church, 202 Broadway, where a group of women who love to cook have gathered in force to perfect their recipes for the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual outdoor cook-off.

Madison Presbyterian Church Team

Photo provided

The Madison Presbyterian Church
cooking team is ready to take
on the competition.

The church’s small brigade of bakers, boilers and brewers will be one of many teams competing Saturday, Oct. 10, for the seventh annual Soup Stew Chili and Brew festival. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. along Madison’s Main Street. Admission is free, but tickets will be sold to those who want to sample the food products. Live music is scheduled for the music stage at Main and Mulberry streets, and there will be a cornhole tournament and a kids’ play area featuring inflatables.
There are four categories in the cooking competition in which participants compete for small trophies and bragging rights. Those categories are: soups, homemade stews, chili and non-alcoholic brews, such as cider and coffees.
Since the first Soup Stew event in 2003, many community organizations have found it to be an excellent way to raise money, said Laura Hodges, the chamber’s marketing and events coordinator. “Last year, festival attendees spent more than $16,000 to sample the various soups offered, she said. “Twenty-four cooking teams participated.”
Linda Davis is the driving force behind the Madison Presbyterian Church’s successful run in the cooking competition. Davis, who moved to Madison five years ago after retiring from a chemical plant laboratory, said she simply loves to cook. “When I joined the church, I met other women who also love to get together and swap recipes and cook for church members,” she said. “Now we cook all the time for the church as a way to fellowship and fundraise.”

Soup, Stew, Chili
and Brew
Entertainment Schedule

• 11-11:50 a.m.: Andra Bladen
• Noon-12:50 p.m.: Bill Lancton (Indiana Hall of Fame Jazz
• 1-1:50 p.m.: Greg Zeisemer and Kriss Luckett-Zeisemer
• 2-2:50 p.m.: Musical montage from the Bicentennial Musical “Rivertown”
• 3-4 p.m.: B.G. Johnson’s Big Bad Brass Blowout

The church’s team, which includes Davis, Marsha McCracken, Judith Glass, Linda LaCour, Sheila Self, Donna Skyrpak and others, work together during the annual cooking festival to create a soup everyone can make. Last year, their black bean soup was a hit among festival goers. This year, the team has planned a special white bean chili with Mexican cornbread muffins.
“Of course, we have a ‘secret’ ingredient that makes our chili just wonderful,” said Davis. “We hope this year we will win the competition.”
The church also plans to sell the “Magic Carmel Apples” that have become something of a legend throughout the community. The specialty treats are Fuji apples dunked in handmade caramel, dipped in chocolate, rolled in pecans and then drizzled with white chocolate. The price of the apples will double this year because of production costs, said Davis.
“We have been participating since the festival started,” said Davis. “We love doing this for our community and church, and we look forward to being there.” Money raised during the competition will be put into the church’s ministry program.
The church isn’t the only team gearing up for the competition, however. The Hickory Creek Souper Stewers plan to go “all out” again this year to win, according to team leader and Hickory Creek’s administrator Christi Risk. Hickory Creek is small, charitable non-profit nursing home facility that currently houses approximately 36 residents and has 35 staff members.
“We love the festival,” said Risk. “We’ve already won three plaques and a trophy, and this year we want to win more.” Last year, the team won for best soup and best decorated booth. The nursing facility team competes in every category, but Risk wouldn’t divulge any information about her team’s recipes or plans. “Oh, we’d be giving our competition a head’s up,” she laughed. She did hint that the staff and residents have created some “awesome recipes.”
Normally, the team tries the recipes out on the rest of the staff and residents before the competition, and then asks for input on how to tweak them.
“We’ve got our Hickory Creek aprons ready, and we are set to go,” said Risk.
Money raised by the team will be used for the staff Christmas party and to buy gifts for residents, too.
Hodges said the children’s area for this year’s event has been expanded and more activities have been added. She also said the festival will end with the awards ceremony at 4 p.m., an hour earlier than in previous years.
Also, as a gesture of appreciation to the firefighters who fought at the Jefferson County Courthouse fire in May 2009, any fire unit that fought the fire will be given free entry into the cooking competition, event co-chairpersons Deana Williams and Tony Ratcliff announced.
In 2007, a traveling trophy for “Best Firehouse Chili” was introduced. It was won by the Mishawaka Fire Department from northern Indiana in 2007, and by Clifty Six Fire and Rescue in 2008. Clifty Six Fire Co. is expected to defend its title enthusiastically.

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