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Three questions for Eric Gaddy, amateur chili cook 

Locals gather for cookoff at Unknown

There's something about a hot, well-seasoned bowl of chili that goes hand in hand with winter (that is, when winter is actually cold). While recipe after recipe can be found online, there's a kind of "do it yourself" motto to making the hearty, age-old stew. You don't need a culinary degree to concoct this easy-to-make dish, but some creativity sure as hell won't hurt. Alternating spices, seasonings and ingredients is part of the fun that comes with crafting chili in a Crock-pot at home.

Unknown Brewing Co.'s upcoming chili cook-off gives amateur cooks the chance to show off their cooking skills and recipes that they've worked to perfect. The competition, featuring 20 teams, also lets folks who are attending sample and vote on the chili that best pleases their palates.

Among those competing is Eric Gaddy, who works for Bank of America and is a photographer on the side. This is Gaddy's first time in a cookoff, though he has competed in a homebrew beer competition in the past at Unknown. Following a night of drinking and talking chili with his buddies, Gaddy threw the idea out to his friends who jumped on board. Look for his team of four who will be providing five gallons of zesty chili at Saturday's culinary challenge.

Creative Loafing: Where is your favorite place to eat chili in Charlotte and why?

Eric Gaddy: Lupie's, hands down. I enjoy their Cincinnati chili with the chocolate and a little bit of cinnamon in it. I also like their really spicy Texas chili. It's got a really good flavor and I like blending the two together.

Can you tell me about what your team has in store for the competition?

We are going to be using chocolate and chipotle. Also, we're going to be using Unknown Brewery's silverback stout. So, it's got spice to it, but it's also balanced out by that sweetness from the chocolate.

How did you guys come up with the recipe and how long did it take to develop into what it is now?

This recipe originated with Daniel Hartis and Richard Sapienza — they're on my team — back when they were in college. They said that they had seen a recipe that called for a porter in the chili and so they went out and bought one of Highland Brewing Company's oatmeal stouts and started tinkering with this recipe. They came up with one they liked and over the years, they've perfected it. Another person on the team, Nick Signet works with Daniel and every Friday they would make chili in a Crock-pot on their desk. They just kind of worked on it until they go it the way they liked it.

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