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Photos: Local Mayors Compete in Chili Cook-Off

It was all chili and good-time competition at the Ludlow Senior Center on Friday night at a chili cook-off sponsored by the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission.
 
The chili chefs were Ludlow Mayor Ken Wynn, Covington Mayor Joe Meyer, and Ft. Wright Mayor Dave Hatter.
 
"Well, I didn't read the instructions, and so mine is over there under the skull and crossbones," said Hatter with a chuckle. Hatter is an alumnus of Ludlow High School. "I was disqualified. I was supposed to make the chili here at the senior center and I made it at home and brought it. The health department guy and I had a discussion about it and I didn't win that discussion."
 
Mayor Joe Meyer and his wife Dale made two kinds of chili, "vegetarian and the good kind", according to Joe. He got the instructions right because he turned it over to Dale, he explained. Standing behind the serving table, dishing out the chili, and smiling, Joe looked right at home in his plastic apron, while Mayor Hatter worked the crowd, laughing and joking with the visitors.  
 
Mayor Ken Wynn had his chili at the senior center on time, but he was a late-comer, being held up at his business, the Wynners Cup cafe for awhile. When he came, he joined the party already in progress, saying hi and shaking hands. 
 
Joe and Dale said they had no special ingredients for their chili, just the same spice packet in both the regular chili and the vegetarian chili, which was made with soy crumbles instead of ground beef. They said they have chili at least once a month at home. Dale called it "rehabbed Cincinnati chili".
 
Dave Hatter said he had two different recipes, and he made both and tasted them and said he really didn't totally like either one, so he combined the two.
 
"One of the recipes is from Bernie Wessels," he quipped, referring to one of his council members. "Let's just say it was a collaboration. I take all the blame. We usually have chili once a month."
 
Ken Wynn debated on whether to go with his dad's recipe or his brother Roy's recipe, and he decided on Roy's as a memorial to his brother.
 
"The chili spice comes from Mexico," he said.  "It has a nice little kick to it, not a lot."
 
To fill in the gap left by the disqualification of Dave Hatter, Rhonda Chisenhall and Lisa Cobb, the manager of the center, came together and made two kinds of chili, a white chicken chili, and a vegetarian chili. The two vegetarian chilis were a nod to Lent, during which Catholics typically avoid eating meats on Friday. Right next door to the senior center was a fish fry. Undeterred, families and friends came into the senior center, and dutifully sampled all the varieties, then placed their monetary tokens in the jar that bore the name of the person whose chili they preferred.
 
And the winner was... Mayor Ken Wynn of Ludlow. His chili was almost gone by the time he arrived.
 
"When we counted the jars, Mayor Wynn had the most money at $101, Mayor Meyer had $88, and the jar we put out for Mayor Hatter collected $47, even though we had to put his jar in front of the chili we made," said Chisenhall, who is the Vice President for Community Development. "The money we collected will go towards the operation of the center."
 
Chisenhall said that the idea probably came out of a brainstorming session, and she suggested that since Ft. Wright and Covington didn't have senior centers, why didn't they do a small event to attract residents of both cities to see the Ludlow Senior Center?
 
"After all, the cities are just up the hill, or down the street," she said. "Our hours right now are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, but within a month we hope to extend one of those days to, like, noon until 7 p.m., so that we can attract some of the younger seniors, who are still working. We have roughly about 100 seniors come to the center a month, and we want to get the word out to others to come and share the activities here."
 
Seniors play cards, and bingo, and take advantage of the workout equipment, plus a couple times a month there is a speaker who gives a presentation. In addition, seniors can count on a hot lunch every day.
 
Story & photos by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Covington Mayor Joe Meyer hands some chili to Brenda Sams, of Ludlow, while his wife Dale looks on