Chili Challenge

Oct 122003
Authors: Christiana Nelson

Water runs from Titus McCotter’s bloodshot eyes, he grabs his

stomach and rocks himself to mitigate the pain. Then blows his

running nose.

The pain does not deter him; he takes another bite of chili.

McCotter was one of 180 students who signed up to be a part of

the first annual Residence Hall Chili Challenge last week.

“I’m an extreme, intense guy,” said McCotter, a senior history

major. “Stuff like this defines me.”

Each day, students arrived at a roped-off area in Corbett Hall

and had to eat an 8-ounce bowl of chili that became progressively

hotter throughout the week. Participants were only allowed one

Aquafina bottle of water and if they could complete their portion

of chili all five days they received an ‘I Survived the Chili

Challenge’ T-shirt.

Maggie Hersh, one of the cooks involved in making the chili,

said the chili contained the same ingredients every day, but the

key to making it hotter was how much of the ingredients were


“We had poblanos, serranos, green bell peppers, anahimes,

habaneros, jalape�os and Dave’s Ultimate Hot Sauce,” Hersh

said. “By the last day we had three bottles of the habanero sauce

and the hot sauce and we kept the seeds in everything.”

Gabriella Horvath, a visiting scientist from Hungary, decided to

take part in the Chili Challenge.

“I love hot stuff and so I had to try it,” Horvath said. “The

chili is hot, but I’ve been practicing on jalape�os. Now

I’ve gotten to the advanced level of habaneros.”

The Chili Challenge, which took place during Fire Awareness

Week, had help from the Poudre Fire Authority Station 2 to raise

awareness about fire prevention.

“We hope it keeps people involved in fire prevention and helps

them to realize the importance of fire alarms,” said Ray Gillen, a

firefighter at Station 2. “We’ve had a lot of fun and it’s nice to

get to know kids this way, rather than the way we normally work

with them.”

Deon Lategan, director of Residential Dining Services, agreed

the purpose of the Chili Challenge went beyond serving fiery


“We thought ‘what better way to involve the community?'” Lategan

said. “We’ve had the fire department here serving chili, the fire

truck has been outside every day and we’ve invited VIP judges like

the city mayor.”

Although students made up the majority of Chili Challenge

participants, Doyle Thornton and Jeff Ioannone of the Housing and

Food Services maintenance staff bought five-day meal plans so they

could join in the challenge.

“If I eat something hot I get the hiccups and today I finally

got the hiccups,” Ioannone said.

Thornton said that the last day’s chili was extremely hot, but

with a little competition, hopes of a T-shirt and a plan to manage

the intense chili, he kept going.

“My plan is to go for the ice cream when I finish my bowl,”

Thornton said.

Ken Quintana, director of fire safety at CSU, indicated that the

first year of the Chili Challenge was successful in a number of

different aspects and is expected to become an annual CSU


“I think everybody had fun; when I tried it my eyes watered, my

nose ran and it definitely cleared my sinuses,” Quintana said.

“Students got to see fire fighters without all the gear on and see

that they are people too. This year was the start and we hope to

make it even bigger next year.”




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