Cooper-Young Chili Cook-Off Saturday

Wendy Sumner-Winter keeping an eye on her chili.

Shameless chili chef Wendy Sumner-Winter has a singular focus this week: to win the Cooper-Young/Peabody PTA Chili Cook-Off Saturday at Peabody Elementary School. She has spent three days cooking beef stock for her “Black and Blue” chili, which includes, among other things, charred pork belly, ground pork, chipotle peppers, black beans and a blue cheese sour cream garnish.


The alumni coordinator at the University of Memphis, Sumner-Winter is also a trained chef who apprenticed with Rick Farmer when he opened his restaurant Jarrett’s in East Memphis. “I’ve been entering these things for years,” she said, laughing. “You’d think I’d finally win one.”


So what make’s Sumner-Winter a shameless competitor? She doesn’t mind trying to stack the deck with a mini-Facebook campaign, soliciting participation for the event (four tastings and a drink for $5) or donations for her tip jar from friends who can’t come. (The chef with the most tips wins the People’s Choice award.)


Here’s the start of Sumner-Winter’s Facebook post: “Okay, friends. I need your help. I'm an abysmal PTAer. I can't sell wrapping paper or entertainment books or cookie dough; I'm not a room mom or a field trip chaperone. But what I CAN do is COOK!”


Makes you want to run right over to Cooper-Young on Saturday for some chili, doesn’t it? The cook-off starts at noon, and winners will be announced at 1:30 p.m. for these categories, in addition to People’s Choice: Judges Choice, Best Hot, Most Unusual and Best Vegetarian.


The school has sponsored the contest for five years to raise money to improve the appearance of the campus and areas nearby.

Peabody Elementary School, 2086 Young Ave.

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