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First Annual Chili Contest Serves Up Variety and Good Times

The Men’s Club of Congregation Or Shalom hosted its first Annual Chili Contest, filling the social hall with the tangy aromas of nine different chili recipes, including poultry-based, vegetarian, and beef-based derivations. Open to the public, those attending were each given a ballot on which to vote for their “People’s Choice” chili, while the six volunteer judges were allowed only a spoonful of each by which to cast their judgments.

The volunteer judges included Rabbi Scott Looper, Eric Berman, Marty Glickman, Jerry Hirschel, Allen Roberts, and Bill Rubenstein.

The judging criteria were aroma, color, consistency, taste, and aftertaste. The judges identified the competition winners as Steve Leventhal from Lake Bluff, with his Jamaican Jerk Chicken Chili taking first place, Long Grove resident Bret Zacher taking second place with his beef-based more classic creation, described as having “a nice afterburn,” and, in third place, Antioch resident Larry Slater with his spicy and flavorful interpretation of this popular food. The People’s Choice award also went to Leventhal, who accepted both awards dressed in a Bob Marley shirt.

Raffle tickets also were available at a nominal cost. Prizes were donated by The Spice House, Salerno’s, The Chicago Rush, Mia and Jerry Hirschel, Larry and Melissa Slater, and Susan and Bill McNulty. The proceeds from the tastings benefitted the temple’s Stephen McNulty Youth Fund, which provides funding for major programming and equipment expenses for youth programs. A special hit of the afternoon were the embroidered aprons for each of the cooks, donated by Larry and Melissa Slater, who also donated embroidered towels given to judges and contest winners.

The Men’s Club looks forward to holding this event annually and appreciates the hard work and diligence that went into making this one a reality.

For more information on Congregation Or Shalom and its activities, contact Andi Freier Nussbaum at 847-362-1948, email her at, or visit the temple’s website at

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