Life at OT

2nd Annual Chili Cook-Off Fires Up a Healthy Dash of Competition

onetechnologies — March 19, 2018

If the aroma of freshly baked breads and desserts weren’t enough to draw you in, the parade of slow cookers and unmistakable scent of chili wafting through the One Tech halls certainly would be. The Second Annual OT Chili Cook-Off & Bake-Off was officially underway, with details about the entries and judges being kept tightly under wraps until the big reveal.

Last year, 27 folks threw their hats into the ring to compete, and this year, 33 One Tekkers stepped up to the plate for the chance to win bragging rights and a prestigious chef’s hat in the Chili, Bread and Dessert categories. As judges sampled 11 chilis, nine breads and 13 desserts, the burning question on everyone’s lips (besides “Who made this hotter-than-hell chili?”) was who would relish the taste of victory – and who would swallow defeat.

Earning first place in the Chili category was Jeb Stone, Director of Analytics Partnerships. Having missed the top spot in last year’s cook-off, Jeb was in it to smoke the competition. This year, he walked away from his traditional Texas Red and pulled out all the stops with his one-of-a-kind (literally, as he didn’t write down the recipe as he made it up) Smoked Brisket Chili that broke all the rules.

“I learned my lesson in 2017,” said Stone. “We’ve got some master chili chefs here at OT. I knew that to make it into one of the top spots, I would have to get way out of my ‘Texas Red’ comfort zone. I smoked a brisket and just went for it. And while I didn’t go as far as adding beans, I did go with hominy – and luckily that was a hit.”

Ruchika Kolluri, Senior Software QA Engineer, took first place in the highly competitive Bread category. With over four years at One Tech but a newbie to food competitions, she wooed the judges with an irresistible Corncake Casserole.

“I started making this dish for our Thanksgiving gatherings a few years ago,” Kolluri said. “I was playing around with a basic cornbread casserole recipe, added a bit of yellow cake mix – and there was no going back. Now, every year my family insists I make one pan for Thanksgiving dinner and an extra pan to enjoy as leftovers.”

Bringing in a sweet first place victory in the Dessert category was Shelli Boydstun, Senior Consumer Insights Analyst. New to One Tech but not to confections, Shelli’s Mississippi Mud Cake left others in the dirt.

“I grew up eating this,” said Boydstun. “It’s my mom’s recipe, and no family gathering was complete without her Mississippi Mud Cake. It was front and center at every birthday celebration and special occasion throughout my childhood – and still is today!”

The Second Annual OT Chili Cook-Off & Bake-Off did not disappoint. According to Jennifer Wall, Human Resources Business Partner, the panel of judges had a tough time deciding on winners in each category – and the food drive was a total success.

“We had more people enter than last year and they all went over the top on variety and flavor,” said Wall. “But the biggest win, by far, was seeing how many pounds of food and hours of time our OT staff donated throughout National Canned Food Month to help feed the hungry at Minnie’s Food Pantry.”