Three years ago, Brandon Zeglin worked as a cook at Christopher D’s in downtown Moline when he got into a friendly debate with some regular customers from the Rock Island Arsenal.
“The Honor Guards… They’re close to me. They buried my grandpa over there at the Arsenal. They also come in here and eat lunch quite a bit,” said Zeglin inside the 16th Street bar and restaurant, his home away from home. “They’re good guys. They talk about how good their chili is, and I cooked lunch for them for many years, so we kind of argue about who can make better chili.”
One thing led to another, and the banter evolved into an annual competition now known as D’s Charity Chili Cook-Off.
“We started a contest out of it, and it’s grown from here on.” said Zeglin. “We do it during football season and baseball season, during the playoffs.”
The cook-off is free to enter. Contestants are responsible for purchasing ingredients and providing their own slow cookers. For a minimum $5 donation, anyone is eligible to be a judge and eat an unlimited amount of chili, although some people have chipped in up to $20.
When voting begins, judges are allowed to select three favorite types of chili. The winning pot of chili receives bragging rights, a $25 gift certificate to Christopher D’s, one large two-topping pizza and a special Chili Cook-Off gold medal. All proceeds raised from the event benefit the Vietnam Veterans of America Quad Cities Chapter 299.
When the event first started, at least 10 different types of chili were available to taste-test. Sunday’s event marked the 3rd D’s Charity Chili Cook-Off, and a record number of 13 different types of chili were entered.
“This is probably the biggest turnout we’ve had,” said Zeglin, who thought the single-digit temperatures would impact the amount of people entering and judging the contest. “I’m so happy everybody showed up, and I appreciate everyone for coming out.”
On Sunday afternoon, Mel Parker of East Moline was deemed the winner of the 3rd D’s Charity Chili Cook-Off. This was Parker’s first year competing in the competition, going head-to-head against 12 other types of chili.
Zeglin anticipates Major League Baseball’s upcoming spring training games and says to keep an eye out on the business’s Facebook page for the next D’s Charity Chili Cook-Off.
“If you like chili, and you like to have fun, come down here and have a good time,” said Zeglin.