The Winter Park Events Center will host a spicy competition for a good cause as the Rotary Club of Winter Park presents the 11th Annual Chili for Charity event, Feb. 23, from 5-9 p.m.
Guests will enjoy chili recipes from competing companies, live entertainment, and the chance to bid on silent auction items – all while supporting Winter Park area nonprofits. An online auction features a range of items including restaurant certificates, scenic boat tour packages, vacation get-aways, and sports memorabilia.
Winter Park Rotary Club President-Elect and this year’s Chili for Charity event chair, Justin Levy, spoke with the32789 about the event.
How many chefs will be competing this year? Our full list of competitors includes some familiar local legends in the culinary world. We have 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Dubsdread Catering, Gourmet Cuisine, Webber International University, CooKit, Arthur’s Catering, Puff ‘n Stuff Catering, Sonny’s BBQ, The Mayflower, Allegro, LILAC, and Garp & Fuss. Competitors will provide chili with their own unique spin and a side. They’ll be judged on taste, booth decor, and best Winter Park attitude.
How has the pandemic affected the event? Last year we had to get a little creative to make sure we could still raise much-needed funds for our local nonprofits. We did what many other businesses did to adapt, we went fully online. We still held a chili event, but rather than a competition, our members delivered meals to families that ordered online, and provided an all-virtual silent auction and event. We’re so grateful to our sponsors, too, as the support for the event was overwhelming, allowing us to provide to some amazing organizations in a time of dire need.
What makes this year different from past Chili for Charity events? This year marks a total elevation of the experience, from the beautiful new venue in the Winter Park Events Center to a live band for entertainment – along with another unique surprise, music-wise. It will also feature the most expansive open bar options we’ve had, a VIP area for our sponsors, a silent auction with items and trips better than ever before, even photo opportunities with one of our new sponsors, McLaren, which is showcasing one of its fastest vehicles at the event. It’s gone from a community event to a can’t-miss extravaganza, and really sets us up to succeed for our nonprofits both now and into the future.
Is the online auction separate from which attendees will be bidding at the event? Within our silent auction, we have items from signed Tampa Bay Buc’s memorabilia to trips around the world that you can claim anytime within 3 years. This silent auction is open to attendees to the event, but you don’t need to come in person to bid. Just register at our event site and be online the day of the event to see and bid on all the items available.
Funds raised by the event and auction go to the Rotary Foundation and support over 30 local nonprofits. In 2021 the foundation distributed more than $113,000 in grants to local charities in support of underserved children, families, and residents.