Town employees broke out their best homemade recipes in the town’s first Chili Cook-off on Wednesday.
Morrisville Fire Battalion Chief Cliff Cates emerged victorious with his “Chili Bombero,” which translates to “firefighter chili” in Spanish.
Scoring a 32 out of 40 possible points, Cates’ mix of ground chicken, pork, lean beef and spices won over the panel of judges.
Judges included Town Council members TJ Cawley, Liz Johnson, Vicki Scroggins-Johnson and Director of Development Services Tim Gauss.
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Fifteen town employees entered the contest, which is part of Morrisville’s employee appreciation program.
Some workers said the program helps the town maintain a low turnover rate, at about 6 percent. Other events include a kickball game and a Thanksgiving Day potluck.
As the contest winner, Cates won bragging rights, a wooden spoon-decorated plaque and an extra four hours of vacation time.
Cates is no stranger to the culinary limelight. Last September, he was among the chefs featured in the Local Heroes Cooking Competition at the Southern Ideal Home Show which pits several area firefighters against each other in the kitchen.
“It feels pretty good,” Cates said of the win. “It wasn’t expected. I entered just to have a good time and feed people. That’s why I made so much.”
Cates has been a town employee since 1999. He said he has stuck around partly because of the way the town treats its employees.
“They are constantly trying to do special things,” Cates said. “That’s one thing about Morrisville, they let you know you are appreciated.”