by Lisa Tome
Irene Grubb's secret spice blend for chili remains a closely guarded secret.
Grubb, who has been making chili at West Nottingham Presbyterian Church for many of the last 20 Super Bowl Sundays, blends the spices at home, packages them in bags, and brings them to the church kitchen.
"It's a secret recipe from Mississippi," said Grubb, who opts not to share the secret even for the church event.
Grubb, her husband, Eric, and church members Laurelle Christie, and Sue Orndorf, were the four-member kitchen team. Their task early Sunday morning was to make and package about 75 quarts of chili to sell for the annual Super Chili Sunday. They created 12 to 13 batches using ground beef, tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, and the secret spice packs.
Christie has been helping with the chili making since 1999. "Back then we made the chili at home. That's before we had the commercial kitchen," she said.
Orndorf has been part of the kitchen team for the chili making for about five years. "I like to eat chili and this is kind of fun. This is good company. I'm not much of a cook and am intrigued by the process," said Orndorf.
While the women are in charge of mixing and measuring, Eric Grubb has the hottest and sloppiest assignment. He cooks the ground beef, about eight pounds at a time on a flat top grill. "I have no idea how many pounds it is, but I enjoy working with the church," he said. "The hardest part is cleaning up. That's the worst part. I spend more time cleaning up than I do cooking." He also said the secret to cooking so much ground beef at once is to keep it moving. He uses a spatula in each hand.
The group also used to make the chili on Saturday before the big game. But one year, there was a cooker malfunction and they lost a double batch. Now, they make it before the church service.
"It cooks a couple hours. That's long enough to get the flavor," said Irene Grubb. "We'll keep making great chili every year."
The proceeds from the annual sale are earmarked to support church missions. Last year, the proceeds benefited a scholarship fund. This year, along with the chili sale, West Nottingham Presbyterian also hosted a collection of items to benefit Habitat for the Humanity. People who came to buy chili, were able to donate used furniture and home items to benefit those in need.