Growing chili cook-off benefits charities

Growing chili cook-off benefits charities

(The judges taste one of 19 different chili samples Saturday during the fifth annual Aldina Real Estate Charity Chili Cook-off. Photo by Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian)

Rita Pina prepares to serve chili from Iniguez Construction’s table. Photo by Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE — Now in its fifth year, the Aldina Real Estate Charity Chili Cook-off had its largest turnout yet Saturday, with 19 teams competing for the best chili.

The first, second and third place teams will donate their winnings to a charity of their choice. This year, the Freedom Lions Club impressed the panel of judges with their beef, bean, jalapeño and garlic chili to nab first place.

Jordan Thorpe, who chaired the event with fellow realtors Tony Melo and Santiago Renteria, said the event this year allowed attendees to vote for the most creative booth.

“It gets bigger and better every year,” he said.

The event’s beginnings stem from a staff meeting five years ago, when Aldina Maciel, owner/broker of Aldina Real Estate, brought up the idea of hosting a cook-off similar to one she had just attended. The team then decided to add a charity component as a way to give back.

“Our mindset is, if the community does better, everyone does better,” Thorpe said.

Maciel said Saturday’s event, located at the real estate office’s East Lake Avenue location, enjoyed a strong turnout, with many locals walking in to check out the festivities and sample a variety of chili.

“We are just so happy to support our community, and meet our community,” she said.

The Ville also kept the crowd entertained with a variety of original and cover tunes.

The crowd breaks into a dance as The Ville performs. Photo by Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian