Life at OT

One Technologies Gets Cookin’ To Fight Hunger

onetechnologies — June 13, 2017

What do you get when you mix 13 distinct pots of chili, nine divine breads, seven to-die-for desserts and a healthy dash of competition? The First Annual OT Chili Cook-Off & Bake-Off – and one heck of a good time!

It’s no secret that food is a big part of the team culture at One Technologies. OT teams get out of the office and volunteer at area food banks several times a year. In the office, OT staffers are treated to bagels or donuts every Monday, Popcorn Fridays, and team lunches and birthday cakes every month. In fact, OT employees get a free gym membership to help ward off the infamous “OT 10” (the struggle is real) – and some even team up to work out.

But for the OT Chili Cook-Off & Bake-Off, there were no teams. It was every crockpot, cake pan and muffin tin for itself. Twenty-seven daring OT team members put their culinary skills to the test for a shot at winning first, second or third place in the Chili, Bread or Dessert categories. The prize? A coveted cutting board plaque – and serious bragging rights.

“Originally, this was just going to be a baking contest to help fuel our One Tech food drive, benefitting Minnie’s Food Pantry in Plano for National Canned Food Month in February,” said Rozan Chisholm, a Technical Writer at One Technologies who helped organize the event. “Then someone said ‘chili’ (National Chili Day is also in February) and the competition heated up!”

The entries were as diverse as the One Tech workplace. We’re talkin’ chili with beans, without beans, chock-full-of-veggies and nothing-but-meat. Cornbread, muffins, cakes, cobblers, confections and everything in between. One Tech enlisted the help of three outside judges for an anonymous tasting sure to stump even the smartest cookie. When the smoke cleared and dishes were licked clean, the winners were announced. Drum roll, please …

Placing first in the hotly contested Chili category was Justin Williams, Senior Software Engineer in Software Development. This wasn’t his first rodeo, and Justin came on strong right out of the gate with an award-winning family recipe he’s engineered and reengineered for years. His one primary concern … to bean or not to bean?

“In 2010, I entered this recipe, with beans, in a competition, but it didn’t make the cut,” said Williams. “Three years later, I brought the exact same chili to the same competition with the same judges, sans the beans, and took home first place. Personally, I am pro bean. But with many cookoffs under my belt, I’ve found no matter how tasty your chili, if you want to win in Texas, you’ve got to leave the beans out.”

Taking second place with a unique chicken chili was Lauren Miller, Manager in Marketing Analytics. Hot on her heels was Benny Estrada, Accountant in Finance, with a fiery flavor that placed third.

Rising to first place in the Bread category was Brandon Davis, Senior Manager of Systems Engineering in IT Operations. A newbie to food competitions, Brandon plowed the field with a cornbread recipe his wife has made for years.

“The bread category was tough because there were so many very solid entries,” said Davis. “To say I was surprised to place, much less come in first, would be an understatement. But keep in mind, it’s my wife’s recipe – so she was the real winner!”

Placing second in Bread (her second second-place win!) was Lauren Miller with a recipe she got from a children’s book – and Paul Hernandez, Lead Analyst in Analytics, came in a close third.

Bringing in a sweet first-place victory in the Dessert category was Stefanie Wood, User Research Manager in Marketing. A seasoned baker, Stephanie’s towering triple-chocolate, raspberry-cheesecake cake looked every bit as amazing as it tasted.

“I wanted to create three desserts in one,” said Wood. “I made the cake first, then whipped up a recipe from Martha, another from Hershey’s and started assembling. Six hours and seven layers later, it was ready for judging.”

Amberlee McCarty, Senior Analyst in Analytics, placed second in Dessert with a sinful sugar-cream strawberry pie – and Jennifer Wall, Senior Human Resources Generalist, took third for her oh-so-moist iced pound cake.

“The OT Cook-Off & Bake-Off was a huge success,” said Wall. “We had lots of great feedback from everyone who cooked, judged and sampled all of the delicious entries. But the biggest win was seeing how OT staffers stepped up to help feed the hungry during National Canned Food Month.”