Over its almost 20-year history, the Charleston Animal Society’s annual Chili Cook-Off & Oyster Roast has changed locations multiple times and seen its attendance skyrocket to upward of 5,000 animal lovers. What hasn’t changed lately, though, is Pardee Heating & Air’s unapproachable dominance in the event’s signature contest.
Pardee on Saturday took its seventh trophy in the overall best chili competition, beating out dozens of other teams for the title. “We’ve done pretty well at it,” says Pardee’s Chrisa Kelly, who’s responsible for the company’s winning recipe.
When Pardee first decided to enter the fundraiser, Kelly searched online for chili recipes. She came across three recipes she liked, so devised a combination that took advantage of “a few different ingredients that I don’t think most people put in their chili,” which she declined to reveal.
Since first being crowned champion, Pardee hasn’t deviated from its recipe, although Kelly allows there’s a little variation from year to year. She describes the chili as “definitely hearty, (with) a little bit of kick to it,” and suspects judges consistently rate it highly because it fulfills people’s chili expectations.
Still, Kelly only makes the chili for the Cook-Off.
“We’ve just been lucky, I guess,” she says. “It is very good chili.”
Other winners at Riverfront Park included The Crossings at West Ashley, which won the unique chili division, and Kickin’ Country 92.5, which claimed victory in the celebrity division. The People's Choice winners were Journey Cycling and Fitness Studio and ABC News 4.
According to Charleston Animal Society spokesman Dan Krosse, the non-profit raised almost $500,000 through sponsorship, team fundraising and ticket sales.