Calvert Hall teacher spices up science lesson with cook-off

April 17, 2002|By Linda Linley | Linda Linley,SUN STAFF

The temperature might have hovered in the 90s yesterday, but that wasn't enough to stop Larry Wineke's students from preparing pots of hot, spicy chili on portable stoves and propane burners in a Calvert Hall College High School science lab.

The smell wafted through the hallways, attracting students, faculty and staff, who volunteered to judge the seven varieties.

It was all part of the third annual Chili Cook-Off for 10th-graders in Wineke's two introduction to physics and chemistry classes.

"It's not just a class about how to make chili," Wineke said. "The students have to do a five-page typed paper; they have to research the history of chili on the Internet, learn about different peppers, and then make their own here in the class. There are thousands of chili recipes on the Internet, or they can use their own."

The cook-off provides a science lesson on several levels, he said: It helps explain nutritional value and the caloric content in food and demonstrate chemical reactions in cooking.

"It's also fun," said Wineke, as he sat at the front of the afternoon class wearing a sombrero.

The rules for the cook-off were simple: Cook the meat at home the night before, and bring everything else to school to make the chili.

The students arrived at school loaded with spoons, spices, chips, salsa, crackers and bread - and drinks, in case the cooks got a little heavy-handed with the spices.

The 21 members of the afternoon class were divided into seven teams called 3 Kings of Chili, Earl's Group, Big Bowl A Red, Blazin' Hot, 3 Amigos, Spicy Hot and Panama Red.

Then the students began cooking, using spices, tomatoes, onions and a few "secret" ingredients that were later made public.

Was that really Hershey's Cocoa that went into one pot? (Yes, it was).

Joe Carlozo, of the 3 Kings of Chili team, said he borrowed his stepfather's recipe, which calls for two pounds of ground turkey. The cornbread Carlozo made Monday night proved to be a good complement to his team's entry.

"It's pretty spicy," said Dan Manzo, of the Big Bowl A Red entry, as the judges stopped for a sample. "You'll probably need a drink for this chili." (It was spicy.)

The Spicy Hot team decided to try a meatless chili, said Wayne Pennington, as he added cumin to the pot, then decided more chili powder was needed.

"It gets hotter as you go," said his teammate, Brandon Roe.

Senior Mike Morgan, one of the judges, took his job seriously, standing off to one side as he filled out an evaluation form that rated each team on presentation, aroma, appearance and texture.

The students were competing for the top prize in the class, and the title of grand champion at Calvert Hall, a Roman Catholic boys high school in Towson with 1,100 students.

The first-place team in each of Wineke's two classes gets 15 points added to its total score. The grand champions - the team with the highest score from both classes - get a 5 percent boost in their grades.

Judge Adam Schluter, a senior, said Blazin' Hot had the best chili. But classmates Kevin Bianca and Michael Hinder liked the 3 Kings of Chili entry, as did Morgan.

The winners in the afternoon class were: Mike Crostic, Victor Marchese, and Carlozo, the 3 Kings of Chili.

Final scores for the morning and afternoon classes still have to be tabulated, however, before Calvert Hall's grand chili championship can be decided.

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