The Gym starts chili cookoff

MONMOUTH — John Rodriguez, head chef at the Gym Bar and Grill, has tossed down the gauntlet — the chili gauntlet.

“We’re trying to create something we can do between the two cities, Monmouth and Independence,” he said.

What better way to pit the two cities against each other than with a chili cookoff?

The Gym will host the first one in what Rodriguez hopes becomes an annual tradition on the second Sunday of April, rotated between participating businesses.

The winning chili will be determined by the public votes. Samples are free, with a $5 donation for a bowl. Rodriguez said the money will benefit the Ella Curran Food Bank, but each year, the hosting business will get to choose the organization who benefits from the donations.

Winning businesses will receive a plaque for Best in Show, which will be passed to the winning business next year. Home cooks are invited, space available, to participate as well.

As of press time, Rodriguez was waiting to hear confirmations from businesses that had been challenged to participate.

He declined to share what makes a good bowl of chili.

“But I’m pretty proud of the one that I’m going to put out for our business — under lock and key,” he said.

The Monmouth-Independence Inaugural Chili Cookoff will be from 2 to 5 p.m. on April 8. The Gym is open for families until 4 p.m.

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