For the fifth year this week we are hosting our annual Vegetarian Chili & Cornbread Cookoff event to deliciously raise money in support of our seva programs: Street Meals (a weekly program to make 300+ brown bag lunches to feed the men at the Peachtree Pine Men’s Shelter); Kashi Jail Yoga (supporting inmates at the Dekalb County Jail); and Kashi KidsArt (an art program serving kids struggling with illness at Egleston Children’s Hospital).
This year’s Chili Cook Off is going to be held this Saturday, September 24 at 11:30 am in our parking lot.
Bhadra Kali, Kashi Atlanta’s long-time friend, gardener, master chef, and chili cook off coordinator talks about her perspective on the event and how we can best support it.
Tell me the Genesis story of the chili cook-off. How did it come together? And why chili?
Honestly, I don’t remember exactly when we had the first chili cook off, but I do remember that the idea morphed out of a conversation following a community dinner featuring lasagna that we had years ago. The event takes place in late september just when stews seem like a good again after the heat of summer.
Well, our lineage of yoga has always emphasized food since Baba taught: “Feed everyone.”
My FAVORITE part of the event is watching our community in a playful feeding frenzy! So often our satsang just doesn’t have the time to sit and eat together. . . like a family. The chili cook off has become a true community building event. It’s so meaningful to watch new relationships form. And, for me, sharing food is an act of love. I am always grateful for the opportunity to feed everyone. And of course, I love that the event raises money for our seva programs. That makes the day even more meaningful.
There’s also a little healthy competition in the chili cook off, isn’t there? Bragging rights for the year?
And for the cornbread! Don’t forget the cornbread!
One of the sunniest spots of the past events are having so many people engaged in cooking. One of our satsang members, Mirabai, admits to not being a cook. But when she participated, her performance art was the star of the table!
Another great thing is seeing the care with which the tables are decorated and the food prepared and presented. I’ve seen the most peace-minded yogis bring a playful “smack down” attitude and pride to their cooking. There was also the year Ganga Devi and Retu won the cook off WITHOUT making actual chili – I think they made Cuban black beans and an Indian lentil dish. So there is lots of creativity with the legumes!
It’s just FUN! And of course, we are a community that LOVES to eat. The tasting is crazy cool too! I love being able to sample so many different options.
That’s right. People’s $10 donation for the event gains them taste testing access.
Yes, exactly. It’s practically the best part. And people vote with their spoons for the best corn bread and the best chili. Winner receive the coveted “Golden Ladle Award”. And yes, bragging rights.
Aside from coming out and tasting, how can people support the Chili Cook Off?
We definitely need cooks to make vegetarian chili and cornbread bakers as well as set-up and cleanup support . . . AND NO RAIN.
Last year, the event was held inside because of the weather and worked out just fine with everyone putting the event together after the 10:00 a.m. Saturday yoga class. It showed me that EVERYONE wanted it to happen and EVERYONE pulled together, in EVERY FACET of the event. It was a great lesson for me on several levels.
People can contact me to enter their chili or cornbread, or to volunteer for the event.
And may the best yogi win?
At this event, we all win!