#Life@Acacia: Our Top Chefs Face the Judges in the 2018 Chili Master Cook-off

By Nuzhat Alamgir | Posted on February 15, 2018

Last month, Acacia’s Chili Masters gathered around the crockpots for our much buzzed-about annual Chili Cook-off! Our chefs, our cornbread bakers and our taste testers brought their A-game this year and not a pot of was left uneaten.

Each employee had five points to give to the Chili Masters, and we knew it would be a fierce competition based on the amazing smells wafting from the kitchen. When it came time to vote, I know I’m not the only one who had to go back for a second round of tastings to make my final decision.



Acacia is thrilled to announce this year’s winners. Drumroll, please…

  • Third Place: Chris MacGregor’s extra spicy, jalapeno-filled chili
  • Second Place: Peter Borges’ brown sugar chili (a lunch and a dessert all in one!)
  • First place for vegan/vegetarian chili: Linda Gernes! This year, our vegans and vegetarians had three chilis to sample, all delicious and healthy
  • And this year’s new champion, taking home first place overall: Mike Sylvester!! Mike’s chili won our hearts (and stomachs!) with a good old-fashioned, classic recipe.

As an attendee, I can safely say this is one of my favorite Acacia traditions. My fellow employee, Song Jiang, summed it up perfectly, “This is such fun, healthy, melting pot event. I left full of chili and am inspired to throw my hat in the ring for next year’s show down.”


And for those of you who left hungry for more, here’s Chris MacGregor’s recipe:

Use a 6 quart slow cooker

SERVES 8-10 | prep time: 10 MINUTES | cook time: 4-6 HOURS


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb 99% lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (15 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 (15oz) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (16 oz) jar deli-sliced tamed jalapeno peppers, drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste


  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place turkey in the skillet, and cook until brown. Pour turkey into slow cooker.
  • Add the onion, peppers, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans, jalapeños, corn, chili powder, and cumin. Stir and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover and cook on High for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.

Serve with toppings –

  • Tortilla chips (whole grain scoops are the best)
  • Guac or Avocado, Sour Cream, Seasoned Taco Cheese, Green Onions, Cilantro, Sliced Fresh Hot Peppers (Red Chili, Jalapeno, whatever you like)

Thank you to all who participated!