McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

March 12, 2014

Gabi becomes youngest champ at chili cook-off

WAURIKA — In the end, the sparkling eyes, the ear-to-ear grin framed by blonde hair and the pre-schooler’s cheery voice beckoning grownups to try her entry proved a winning combination.

And, oh, the chili wasn’t bad, either.

Gabi Gunter became the youngest champion in the history of the Big Red Chili Cook-Off on Thursday, when the 5-year-old won her division and then captured the overall showdown to walk away with the coveted Big Red Chili Bowl traveling trophy.

The annual chili competition sponsored by the Waurika Sorosis Club has produced past overall champions that spanned the generations, from teenagers to senior citizens. Ryan High student Brock Gandy had been the youngest previous winner in the even that coincides with the opening night of the Jefferson County Junior Livestock Show.

But at the 2014 contest in the Fairgrounds Building, Gunter became the youngest contestant to claim the Big Red Chili Bowl, using salesmanship and some help from her father to brew up a chili drew a large crowd.

It was the second year of a rules change that made judges out of those buying a ticket for the chili supper that accompanies the competition, and Gunter’s entry drew 43 votes in the Youth Division, over twice as many votes as any other entry in the three divisions.

Tara Gunter said her husband, Doug, had gotten an outline for a chili soup from a co-worker and Gabi’s dad went to the Internet to find the exact recipe.

“Doug put the meat in the pan and browned it for Gabi, and put out all the spices she needed,” Gabi’s mother explained.

“Then Gabi sat on a bar stool and did it all from there,” Doug Gunter noted.

What emerged was a one-two punch of Gabi attracting diners to her chili and the diners being delighted by the soup that they tasted.

Although she defeated Youth Division runner-up Turner Mora in the initial vote, Gabi couldn’t claim the Big Red Chili Bowl until her votes were compared to those of Joyce Gresham, winner of the Individual Division, and Business Division winner Howard Ranches.

In that match-up, Gunter had a 43-26 lead on Gresham.

In all, there were 15 entries in the competition, with nine being entered in the Business Division and four in the Individual Division.

“We had more entries and more people buying tickets for the chili supper than we did last year,” Sorosis Club member Melicia McFadden said.

Although Howard Ranch got third in the overall vote, having the winning chili in the Business Division was satisfying for chef Jim Howard.

Unveiling his own recipe as a first-time competitor in the Big Red Cook-Off, Howard had a big grin as he noted, “This was a grudge match between me and my brother-in-law, Jim Seay!”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State House
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
NDN Video
Under Armour Launches Biggest Women's Campaign with Inspiring Ad NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner was homicide: medical examiner Christina Aguilera Pulls a Demi Moore! Man with no arms throws first pitch Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Is Justin Bieber Dating a Model? Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) 'Sharknado 2:' Hottest Memes Surfing The Net Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Recapping a Blockbuster MLB Trade Deadline Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2"
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.