Hot Chili, Warm Puppies Spice up Fenton's Third Thursday
Businesses feature chili recipes; patrons vote for favorites with $235.04 in donations for Adopt-A-Pet.
Steamy, spicy chili and warm puppies helped heat up the city of Fenton's Third Thursday event, a Chili Cook-off to benefit Adopt-A-Pet.
Patrons visited participating businesses, voting for their favorite chili recipes by donating a dollar per vote for Adopt-A-Pet.
Fenton's Third Thursday events, held at participating businesses on the third Thursday of each month, are an opportunity for the community to shop, dine, and support local charities.
At Marjie's Gluten Free Pantry, the chili of choice was from Eden company, of Clinton, MI. "We sell it here," said business owner Marjie Andrejciw.
Eden chili is gluten free and vegetarian, featuring black beans and quinoa. It's a meatless meal that has a lot of taste, Andrejciw said. In addition, it can be topped with a pepper jack-flavored, soy and dairy free cheese that also is vegetarian. The cheese also is available at the store.
Kevin Schuyler, of Fenton, sampled the chili. "It's good," he decided.
His daughter, Kyra Schulyer, a fifth-grader at North Road Elementary School in Fenton, helped with the event. Kyra said her family volunteers for Adopt-A-Pet by providing a foster home for kittens.
Eric Klaus, owner of Kimberly Kay Furniture, said he has participated in all of the Third Thursday events. He believes attendance will pick up in the spring and summer.
With temperatures dipping to 9 degrees, it was a chilly evening. Inside Kimberly Kay Furniture, volunteer Jane Bullard, for Adopt-A-Pet, cuddled a warm puppy — Mindy. Mindy, a small Jack Russell terrier mix, helped Bullard greet visitors.
At Jill's General Store, Jill Hendrix, one of the owners, said the Third Thursday events have been very fun, with lots of people.
"This is the most fun, though, because of the dogs," Hendrix said.
Adopt-A-Pet volunteers with dogs and puppies were there, including Nina Temple, 12, a student at Holly Academy. Nina held Coco Chanel, her dog that she adopted from Adopt-A-Pet.
"I'm here to tell people about Adopt-A-Pet," she said. "I tell them that Coco Chanel is a puppy mill survivor. She came in last year in April. At first, she was very scared, and now she is very animated."
The small, white dog liked the smell of Nina's chili. Trying a spoonful, Nina said it was good — "spicy."
Participating Fenton businesses were Biggby Coffee, Kimberly Kay Furniture, Fenton Winery & Brewery, Edge Gallery, Jill's General Store, Fenton's Open Book, Luigi's on Leroy, Elle Marie Hair Studio, Billmeier Camera Shop, A Joyful Noise Music Studio, Marjie's Gluten Free Pantry, Pipsqueak Boutique, Sweet Variations, The French Laundry, and Yesterday's Treasures. For more information, see www.fentonbecloser.com
On Friday, Kim Rivera, of New Moon Visions, Fenton's marketing consultants, said the Chili Cook-off raised $235.04 for Adopt-A-Pet.
Carol Schuler, owner of Sweet Variations, had the winning recipe, "Kicked Up Chili," Rivera said. Schuler began with a recipe from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and added suggestions from her friend Matt Bennett, originally from Fenton. The meat includes beef and pork, and the flavors are layered, Rivera said.
Bennett has cooked at the James Beard House in New York, twice, Schuler said. "It's like the Oscars for chefs."
Her friend suggested that she toast the spices before adding them to the chili, Schuler said. This releases the oils and flavors better.
In addition, the secret ingredient for Kicked Up Chili is — of course — a certain amount of 99 percent French chocolate, from Sweet Variations. The original recipe calls for the chili to be served in a bag of Fritos, Schuler added.
"I followed (Bennett's) instructions, and it turned out pretty darned good," she said. "I want to thank everyone for coming out in the freezing cold weather. I'm glad we could make some bucks for Adopt-A-Pet.
In addition, one of the puppies Adopt-A-Pet volunteers brought to the event, to A Joyful Noise Music Studio, caught someone's eye and was adopted as a result, Rivera said.