Eclectic tastes at chili cook-off fundraiser at Woody’s Pub in Lake Country

In support of Syrian refugees, fundraiser held in Lake Country Tuesday featuring 11 unique chilis

Lake Country's Sharon McCoubrey is about to get a taste of some hot chilli

Lake Country's Sharon McCoubrey is about to get a taste of some hot chilli

From spicy hot habaneros and chipotle, to Italian sausage to smokey barbecue, the range in styles and tastes of 11 different chili concoctions on display Tuesday in Lake Country was as varied as the people that live in the Central Okanagan community.

Adding zest to the event was the fact it was held to support making the Okanagan even more eclectic and varied as it was held to raise funds to support more Syrian refugee families set to arrive in the area.

“I think it’s great that our community can support the arrival of Syrian families,” said Lake Country Mayor James Baker, one of three judges of the contest, held at Woody’s Pub and with the support of the Wooden Nickel Cafe in Lake Country. “This community certainly reaches out to help wherever and whenever we can.”

The chili cook-off and silent auction was organized by the St. Francis Anglican Church in Lake Country, part of the Lutheran-Anglican Refugee Committee (LARC), a group churches from Lake Country, Kelowna and West Kelowna that have combined forces to help settle Syrian refugees in the Central Okanagan. One family has already been settled in the Central Okanagan and more families are expected to arrive within days. LARC has established different committees to help with settlement issues and the funds raised in Lake Country will go towards whatever is needed to help, said organizer Leora Splett.

“This is pretty darn good,” said Splett Tuesday, as Lake Country residents came and went from Woody’s, chowing down on home-cooked chili and supporting a great cause. “I would say it’s pretty positive.”

After the judges narrowed down the entrants to the top three chilis, the mayor, as well as long-time community member Sharon McCoubrey and 2013 Miss Teen Canada Amber Coles, gathered together to finalize the winner.

And it was the Italian sausage that took top spot, cooked lovingly by Lake Country’s Janet Kluftinger.

The winner however may have been the next Syrian family to arrive in the Central Okanagan, where folks continue to gather throughout the area to support the newcomers in a variety of ways.

“It’s a great thing to support,” said Kluftinger. “It’s a community thing and we can help out. You see the issue on the news so it’s nice to be able to help out in some small way.”