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Island fire crew named Lee County Chili Challenge champions

By Staff | May 7, 2019

RACHEL DYSARCZYK The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District team won the Lee County Chili Challenge on April 13 in Fort Myers. From left, South Trail Fire Protection and Rescue Service District Capt. Jason Dysarczyk, the event chair, with Richard Johnson of Bailey’s General Store and Sanibel Fire Chief Matt Scott.

The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District earned a year’s worth of bragging rights for the best chili.

The district’s team won the inaugural Lee County Chili Challenge on April 13, which was hosted by Stu’s Motorcycles in Fort Myers. Event chair Jason Dysarczyk, a captain with the South Trail Fire Protection and Rescue Service District, explained that it was open to fire, EMS, police and military.

“We had 11 teams participate,” he said.

The other competing teams came from South Trail, the Fort Myers Fire Department, Estero Fire Rescue, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, South Trail Fire District Benevolent Association, Honor Flight, Marine Corps League, U.S. Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach, Polish Legion of American Veterans Post 166 and American Legion Post 38.

“This was put together to bring the fire, police and military communities together because there’s a lot of overlap,” Dysarczyk said. “And to raise money for some very good causes.”

PHOTO PROVIDED The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District will get to hold onto the Lee County Chili Challenge trophy until next year's competition, which is scheduled for Feb. 1 at Stu’s Motorcycles in Fort Myers.

The competition helped to raise more than $3,000 for the Honor Flight, South Trail Fire District firefighter Charlie Russo and the Injured Warriors Fund – with each one receiving $1,100.

“Any time we can get together with other fire districts for a good cause – and kick their butt – we like to,” Capt. Tim Barrett, with the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District, said. “We love getting involved.”

The island team was made up of Fire Chief Matt Scott, firefighter-paramedic Arian Moore and the district’s newest recruit, firefighter-EMT Bryan Clement. Bailey’s General Store sponsored the team by providing ingredients for the recipe, with several main components coming from the butcher shop.

“Everything we needed we got from them,” Barrett said.

He noted that Moore is definitely the “chef” within the district.

“Our guy Arian is an amazing cook,” Barrett said.

“I know he used a couple different types of meat,” he added. “He switched a couple of things, which made a huge difference.”

The team worked on the recipe on and off for about a week or so.

“To make sure all of the ingredients were right,” Barrett said.

When it came time for the judging, the panel was unanimous across the board.

“There was no discussion about it. Once they had his (chili), it was the end of the story,” he said. “All the judges said hands down it was the best they ever had.”

In winning the title of chili champions, the district got to bring home a trophy.

“We have the trophy here,” Barrett said, adding that the district will get to hold onto it until next year’s competition. “This is the first year that they’ve done it, so our name is always going to be on top.”

He estimated that it has been years since the district took part in something of this nature.

“I think we might change that and get involved,” Barrett said.

Dysarczyk reported that a fun time was had by all.

“I couldn’t have asked for more support,” he said of the teams and public.

Dysarczyk extended some additional gratitude to Scott. He explained that the chief made wooden plaques about 2-by-4 in size, including one with Russo’s fire badge, to auction off at the event.

“He silently auctioned them off and that generated another $300 that went toward the proceeds,” Dysarczyk said.

The second annual Lee County Chili Challenge is set for Feb. 1 at Stu’s Motorcycles.

Anyone interested in getting involved with next year’s competition or becoming a sponsor can contact Capt. Jason Dysarczyk at 239-898-3627 or visit www.facebook.com/leecountychilichallenge.

Stu’s Motorcycles is at 4607 6 Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers.