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Akron firefighter wins national chili cook-off on Pickler & Ben

Posted at 12:32 PM, Jan 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-07 12:33:05-05

AKRON, Ohio — Akron firefighter Damarcus Wilkinson walked away a winner after competing on the daytime television talk show Pickler & Ben on Monday morning.

Wilkinson competed in the show's second annual chili cook-off on Monday, and his recipe was so good it won him the chili bowl trophy.

The cook-off was judged by chefs Marc Murphy from Food Network's popular cooking competition Chopped and Pat Neely.

Wilkinson was invited to compete in the "Pickler & Ben" chili cook-off after show staff members searching for winners of various chili competitions found his chili from a story about his win in last year's Akron Firefighters Chili Challenge, according to an article by the Akron Beacon Journal.

No one in their right mind will actually make this delicious chili at home (unless you're a professional chef), but if you're up for the challenge, here's the recipe:

No Hose Barred Chili
Serves 6 to 8


For the Magical Chili Seasoning:
8 juniper berries
15 to 20 allspice berries
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
4 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the chili:
3 to 4 dried Ancho chile, divided
3 to 4 dried Gaujillo chile, divided
3 to 4 dried Arbol chile, divided
3 to 4 dried Chipotle chile, divided
2 quarts warm beef stock
3/4 pound slab bacon ends, finely chopped
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch cubes Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large white onion, peeled and diced
1 large green pepper, cored and diced
1 jalapeno, diced
4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 bay leaves
1 (3-ounce) package McCormicks Chili Seasoning
1 tablespoon dried chili powder
1 (32-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (32-ounce) can tomato sauce
Worcestershire sauce, to taste

For serving:
Sour cream
Diced white onion
Shredded cheddar cheese
Hot sauce


1. Make the seasoning: In a skillet over medium-high heat, toast juniper, allspice, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, garlic powder, mustard and cinnamon until fragrant. Transfer to a coffee grinder and grind until combined and finely ground.

2. Make the chili: In a medium bowl, add 1/2 of the dried chilies and enough stock to cover. Let sit until re-hydrated. Transfer to blender and blend until smooth. Grind remaining 1/2 of the dried chilies into a fine powder.

3. Season beef and pork with salt, pepper and cumin. In a heavy bottomed stockpot over medium-high heat, brown bacon until crisp. Transfer to a bowl and reserve fat. Wipe pot and return to heat. Add beef and cook until browned. Transfer to a separate bowl. Wipe pot and return to heat. Add pork and cook until browned. Transfer to bowl with beef. Wipe pot and return to heat.

4. Add onion, green pepper, jalapeno and 1 tablespoon bacon. Sauté until onions are tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add bay leaves, 2 tablespoons Magic Chili Seasoning, McCormicks Chili Seasoning, chili powder, and 1 to 2 teaspoons dried chili powder. Cook 1 minute. Stir in blended dried chili sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Fill an empty tomato can with broth and add to pot.

5. Stir in browned meat and simmer 20 minutes. If sauce is too thick, add more broth to thin. Simmer, continually stirring, 10 minutes more. Serve with sour cream, onion, cheese, and hot sauce, if desired.