There’s nothing like a little comfort food to warm the soul, especially once the cold weather hits. So I was excited to be invited to judge a recent employee chili cook-off at the ADESA office.

I didn’t even let the chili names—Johnny’s Science Project, Chili Surprise or Booty Burning Chili—deter me. And, after testing them, there was no need to worry. They were all pretty tasty! The judges and I had a tough time deciding, but the winners were:

Spice is Nice Award: Steve Hentz’s Chili Surprise. The surprise? It was vegetarian!

Crowd Pleaser Award: Angela Parks’ chili. The judges all agreed this was something we’d serve at our next tailgate party.

Originality Award: Whitney Babbit’s Maui Wowi. It had a distinct Hawaiian vibe.

Overall Judge’s Pick: Brittani Schneck’s Johnny’s Science Project. I caught a couple of the judges going back for seconds of this one.

Thanks to our ebusiness and telesales teams for including me. And thanks to all the employees who took the time to make the chili. It was fun joining you for lunch.

Check out some pictures of the chili, the judges and the “official” taste-testing.

Some of our contenders.

Another contender for "Best Chili".

Hoctor and I dealing with a chili-judge heckler at the other end of the table.

Chili cook-off judges (L to R): Paul Lips, Jim Hallett, Carol Sewell, Dennis Jones, Summer Ernsberger, Tom Caruso, Bob Rauschenberg, John Hoctor and Howard Bushman.

Jim and Summer took their judging responsibilities very seriously.