You don’t get many northern Indiana days in October where the high temperature approaches 80 degrees and the sun shines.
But Saturday was gorgeous, and hundreds came out to eat chili from 12 restaurants or community groups, as well as enjoy music, games and beverages at the Oktoberfest in downtown Elkhart.
Pillars of Elkhart put on the event to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County.
I was one of the three official chili judges, along with Michele Scherpenberg of Epicureans Unite and Mark McGill of Michiana News Channel’s morning radio show.
We ate 13 chilis and picked our favorites. The people who paid $5 did the same thing. The people’s choice awards went to Community Hospital of Bremen for first, Elkhart Firefighters Local 338 for second and Five Star Dive Bar in third.
Our choice for the best chili came from McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk. Community Hospital of Bremen, which won an event the weekend before at Heritage Square, was second, and Five Star Dive Bar was third.
Two chilis came with deep fried onions this year, signaling a trend. One chili tasted scorched. Some had beans and some didn’t. But a number of the entries highlighted the number of chili peppers used, the source of the beef and that food was locally grown. These are all good trends.
The second annual Elkhart Dining Days ended Saturday. Organizer Michele Scherpenberg of Epicureans Unite said people visited independent restaurants and supported an event that raised money for Church Community Services. She won’t know numbers on meals sold or the amount raised for a bit.
I had some great food from the special menus offered at Iechyd Da Brewing and Christiana Creek Country Club. Antonio’s offered items mostly from its regular menu, and 523 Tap & Grill had a pork-centered menu.
Also, more than 100 people ate for a cause Saturday afternoon in Goshen, according to Clare Krabill, executive director of Center for Healing and Hope. The second annual event raised money for the agency by allowing people to eat at three Goshen restaurants between 3 and 5 p.m. A total of nine restaurants participated.
Mini Delights Bake Shoppe, 217 S. Main St., Elkhart, has new hours. The shop will open at 10 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and add walk-in business hours from 9 a.m. to noon, according to employees.
After seeing the Quick Bite a week ago, two readers emailed about another Brazilian steakhouse in Valparaiso. Bill Czarnecki wrote that Gauchos Brazilian Steakhouse has great food and service. From Elkhart, the restaurant is a bit farther than one would be in Fort Wayne, but with the Indiana Toll Road it may be a quicker drive.
Congratulations to Hilltop Restaurant, 14330 U.S. 20, Middlebury. The restaurant, owned by Esther Rogers, celebrated 35 years of business on Oct. 1. It’s got good diner food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Burger King restaurants operated by Quality Dining are selling coupon books to help raise money for the scholarships it gives annually. Quality Dining Inc., based in Mishawaka, will give 109 scholarship this year and has given $1.8 million since 2001. Coupon books are available at BKs through Oct. 31 for $1 each, according to a press release.
Temple Beth-El, the Jewish synagogue in South Bend, will be selling corned beef sandwiches on rye bread on Thursday, Oct. 17. Frank Connolly passed along a press release indicating that a sandwich, real dill pickle, slaw and chips are $12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the temple, 305 W. Madison St. Offices getting more than 15 meals can get delivery anywhere in Michiana, according to the release. You can preorder at 574-234-4402 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marshall V. King is managing editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at 574-296-5805, email@example.com, on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.