Cook-off showcases culinary skills for homecoming
Students, alumni and community members gathered at Stones River Mall Oct. 3 to celebrate the 101st homecoming with the annual chili cook-off in a different way than years passed.
According to Patrick Morrison, the Student Government Association’s homecoming director and a senior majoring in international relations, the cook-off has been a part of MTSU’s homecoming tradition for at least 25 years, but this year’s cook-off is the first time in several years it was held off campus.
“It’s been happening out on the Murphy Center lawn for the past few years, “Morrison said. “I just wanted to kind of revitalize it a little bit.”
In addition to drumming up homecoming hype, the cook-off also functions as an annual Habit for Humanity fundraiser. All proceeds collected from the $5 cook-off entrance fee go to the nonprofit organization.
“This is one of the biggest fundraisers that we do for Habitat,” Morrison said. “Last year we actually did a ‘Blitz Build,’ which is where we actually built a house through Habitat for Humanity, and this fundraiser builds [the funds] up again.”
According to Anna Miles, assistant homecoming director and a junior majoring in public relations, some organizers raised concerns about the cook-off being off campus. However, according to Miles, having it at the mall created an opportunity to forge another connection between MTSU and the Murfreesboro community.
“Not only do all the students know about it, but all the community,” Miles said, adding that “if they’re even at the mall and they don’t know about it, this is their chance to learn more about MTSU, to learn more about what we’re doing for homecoming and what we’re doing for Habitat for Humanity.”
Almost 30 organizations joined the competition, including student groups, community businesses and alumni. According to Brandon Loso, the chili cook-off director and a junior majoring in marketing, the chilies are judged according to flavor, texture, taste, presentation, incorporation of school spirit and attendance.
“I’m looking forward to trying a lot of [the chilies]—just see what each organization brought to the table today, and seeing how they’ve contributed to ‘Under the Blue Top,’” Loso said.
The winning “Lightning’s Ladle” chili went to MTSU Student Ambassadors and their “Hearty Homecoming Chili.” According to the student ambassadors, the spaghetti in their chili made it stand out from the rest.
In addition to winning Lightning’s Ladle, the Student Ambassadors also won first place in the student organizations category, with Phi Mu Alpha and their “Simfonian Chili” in second place and Pi Kappa Phi and their “Steven’s Secret Recipe” chili coming in third.