Look Who’s Here for the Ultimate Chili Cook-off?

I had the honor and privilege to stand besides City of Orlando’s Fine Firefighters and the One and Only Ms. Martha Stewart – a business magnate, author, magazine publisher, and television personality.

Ms. Stewart was in town for the 45th Pillsbury Bake-off Contest.  When she took a short detour over to the Macy’s at Mall of Millennium to judge the firefighters of Orlando for a chili cook-off. The cook-off was hosted by  Macy’s and the contestants even prepared and showcased their offerings in Ms. Stewart’s new cookware line.

I must admit this was my first personal encounter with firefighters. Now cops, that’s another story all together; have established a long standing relationship based on my speeding tickets. (Shh! You didn’t hear me say that).

The City of Orlando’s firefighters were refreshingly friendly and supportive. They even allowed me to pose with them, aww!! I am so glad we were seated in this shot; I would have looked like a dwarf-lady standing besides these impressively muscular men.  And I got to taste Metro West’s Station’s Chili too!! Nice Kick!





Ms. Stewart was fashionably late but the anticipation in the room was electric.  Wow! She has some charisma and charm.  I was duly impressed. After a round of Q&A, the winners were announced. Drum Roll please!! The Beast of the East Station hands down won the contest. (The only team with a woman).



Macy’s generously shared with us Ms. Stewart’s chili and cornbread. Even cold beverages were passed around. Nice touch!Since I got autographed Recipe Cards personally from Ms. Stewart, I am taking the liberty of sharing the recipes with my readers.


Martha Stewart’s Chili & Cornbread

Skillet Cornbread

  • Vegetable oil for pan
  • 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal, preferably stone ground
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ¼ cup canned jalapeno
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly oil an 8 inch cast iron pan and heat in oven. Meanwhile whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine buttermilk, milk, and egg; add to cornmeal mixture and whisk to combine.  Add melted butter and jalapeno.
  2. Remove pan from oven and pour in batter (it will sizzle). Bake under dark golden around the edges and set in center, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before cutting into squares or wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Texas Chili Ingredients:

  • 8 whole dried chiles (5 ancho and 3 guajillo or all ancho; about 3 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil, plus more as needed
  • 3 pounds trimmed beef chuck, cut into small pieces (1/2 inch or smaller)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped (4 cups)
  • 7 to 8 garlic cloves, minced (5 tablespoons)
  • 2 jalapeno or serrano chiles, seeded if desired, minced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled plum tomatoes, pureed with their juice (3 1/2 cups)
  • 4 cups water, plus more if needed and for soaking
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons white vinegar, to taste
  1. Toast dried chiles in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant and blistered, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove stem and seeds; discard. Transfer chiles to a large measuring cup or bowl, and cover with hot water. Keep chiles submerged with a small bowl, and let soak for 30 minutes. Remove from water, and puree in a blender with 1/2 cup soaking liquid.
  2. Heat a large heavy pot over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. Season beef with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Brown beef in batches, adding more oil as needed, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add remaining tablespoon oil, the onions, garlic, and minced chiles to pot, and cook over medium-high heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. (If the pan gets too dark, add a little water, and scrape up browned bits with a wooden spoon to deglaze.) Add cumin and oregano, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  4. Stir in browned beef and chile puree. Add tomato puree, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently, partially covered, until meat is very tender and juices are thick, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. (Check pot once an hour for excessive evaporation; if chili seems dry, add a little water.) Season chili with salt, and stir in vinegar. Serve immediately (or refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months; reheat in a pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally).
This one is for ME!! The credit naturally goes to Julius from Droolius. If it wasn’t for him, I couldn’t have captured this priceless moment. A big thank  you, Julius!!
And here’s one of Me on Martha Stewart Blog too!



Martha Stewart Collection at Macy’s


The People who made it possible for me to attend this event
Macy’s Culinary Council via Tweeter
Britton T. Edwards – Senior Digital Strategist EVERYWHERE

Christina Verrelli from Devon, Pennsylvania won the grand prize of 1 Million Dollars at the 45th Pillsbury Bake-off. Wow!! What an achievement.

Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/85wrv52


  1. Hey! Thank you so much for attending and for posting about this fun event. I love Martha and love that we had a good reason to reach out to you. Everywhere looks forward to working with you in the future! Thanks so much!

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