Please, sir, may I have some more?

By Eric Freeman

Winter Bowl adds spicy competitors to soup and chili cook-off

There will be some new faces spicing things up at this year’s Winter Bowl, making East Lansing’s holiday season hotter than ever.

The City of East Lansing and MSU Activities Board is bringing four new sponsors to participate in the annual cook-off contest. Recently introduced Brother’s Grill and Paddy Rawal’s Mumbai will join Panchero’s and El Azteco in the soup cookoff. Panchero’s will also participate in the chili cook-off. Each is expected to bring a spicy kick to the already flavorful competition.

Heather Patler-Holguin, manager of El Azteco, said the contest is a great way to give back to the city, where her restaurant has been a downtown staple for three decades. She will enter her homemade tortilla soup recipe, complete with several El Azteco sauces and ingredients.

“I just wanted to get involved and have some fun. Our restaurant is located right in the middle of [Winter Bowl].” Patler-Holguin said. “Joining the cook-off has been something we’ve been working on for a few years now, and we finally got the opportunity. We’ve had the same menu for over 30 years, and we want to expose people to some of our new items that we just added.”

The 2008 chili cook-off ended in a split decision, giving the East Lansing Fire Department first place in the people’s choice award and Crunchy’s first place in the judge’s choice award. Crunchy’s manager Paul Stewart is looking to get back at the ELFD this year by sweeping both categories. “I’m looking to defend my firstplace chili,” Stewart said. “I don’t want to trash talk the fireman, because that would just feel wrong, but I guess they should know that I’m going to come back at them with a new recipe this year.”

Stewart declined to give out his secret recipe, but he did mention that he likes to include beer in his chili. “All I can say is that I’m always going to make something that I like to eat,” he added.

For musical entertainment, Winter Bowl is bringing back the Bayou River Band to perform throughout the event.

In addition to the cook-off, Winter Bowl will host a reindeer petting zoo, pictures with Santa and an ice carving demonstration and display. All are invited to taste test and cast their votes for their favorite soup or chili. Cook-off winners will be announced at 4 p.m. in the heated tent in Lot 1.

Winter Bowl Soup & Chili Cook-off

Downtown East Lansing Sunday, Dec. 6 1-4 p.m.

Activities & Parking FREE