Second Annual Chili Cook-off Huge Success for Justin’s House
Story by Melissa McKenzie
The smell of slow-simmered meats, spices, vegetables and beans wafted through the air as 13 teams vied for the chili king title at the Second Annual Justin’s House Chili Cook-off on April 23.
Held at Santa Clara’s Elk’s Lodge, the event brought together fans of cooking and chili fanatics for a good cause: to support Justin’s House, a local non-profit that empowers kids to choose a life unencumbered by addiction.
Founder Kelly Villarreal, whose late husband Justin Bell began his battle with alcoholism long before he was old enough to drink, started the organization in his memory. Bell had always told Villarreal that if he had a place to go that could teach him skills or somewhere to help him through tough times, he may have remained sober. It is a statement that stuck with Villarreal and a driving force behind her dedication to the cause.
Since Justin’s House began, one thing has remained clear; Bell and Villarreal have touched more lives than either ever knew, with Villarreal’s former Wilcox High School students consistently supporting Justin’s House and Bell’s former co-workers and friends–including his sponsor Gary Ceglar–being part of his legacy.
One of Bell’s former co-workers, Brad Letak, along with his cooking partner, Sean Harvey, both of Livermore, missed the 2016 event but entered this year’s cook off as H & L Chili Co. The pair’s offering, full of layered flavors, took the top prize–$500–from the judges: Chef-Owner of Palo Alto’s Thyme restaurant Winston Haddaway, Executive Chef of Sysco Foods Jay Marshall, Executive Chef at Guckenheimer Dylan France and Santa Clara Unified School District Board Member Andy Ratermann...
Black & Blue Olympics Makes a Comeback
Story by Andrew Bensch
Photos by Wilcox High School Junior Christopher Tran
After a one-year hiatus, the Black & Blue Olympics between Wilcox and Santa Clara High schools returned to the Youth Activity Center. Fortunately, the event was a friendly enough rivalry that nobody ended up black and blue other than the artificial black and blue face paint on the respective sides of the gym.
The night started off with a jaw-dropping...