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2021 Lenexa Chili Challenge Recap

By Jessica Tonyan, Project Engineer with Nexus 5 Group

Each year the city of Lenexa hosts a “Chili Challenge” where 200 teams come together to show off their chili, salsa, and chicken wing making skills. The event is held over a two-day period, Friday evening and Saturday. The teams host private parties from their booth on Friday and give out samples to everyone on Saturday.

Both days are packed with events for the entire family. Live music, fireworks, face painters and more. The event is a fundraiser for JDRF (JDRF is a global organization that funds research for type 1 diabetes) and is an event that our very own Stan Phelps has done for the last 18 years. So, when Stan asked us to partner with him this year, we immediately said YES. We loved the idea that we could get our team together outside of work with their families and support JDRF.

Chef Naming

First things first. We had to name our chefs and start planning. Our chili chefs were Stan Phelps and Tom Cowan. Dani Heimsoth stepped up to enter her salsa and Stan’s brother, Rob Phelps, signed up to enter his wings.

2021 Chili Challenge Results

Grand Champion 87th

Traditional Chili (Stan) 30th

Homestyle Chili (Tom) 149th

Wings (Rob) 54th

Salsa (Dani) 132nd

From Miss Dani Heimsoth….

“2021 has been a challenging year for us. We implemented two new software systems, we have been battling material and labor shortages and working around a lot of hurdles. Our culture which we have talked about in a few blogs, is something we value above all else except #servewell. So, when we had a chance to get out of the office, compete and hang out and do something as a team, we JUMPED at the chance.

Friday was the setup and “check in” and Saturday is the competition. Friday is the fun day; we invited all our team members to come and bring their families. We started midday getting the tent, coolers, tables and all the essentials in place and just waiting. One of the many great things about having our Jess, is that she is the ultimate planner, coordinator, office Mom, and organizer. So basically, the set up was a breeze and looked amazing.

Stan has competed for quite a few years and made the whole setup go quickly and seamlessly. That gave us the perfect amount of time to sit down and just enjoy our “company”. Shop talk, laughs and maybe a little snooze while we were patiently waiting for all our friends to show up.

I have competed once before in the Lenexa Chili Challenge and attended for many years. This year was the best, hands down. Touching on culture, it says a lot when we truly look forward to a get together outside the office. Not only did team members show up, but a lot of them brought spouses and family. Tom was grilling up some hotdogs that we slapped all the chili on, the kids were dancing up a storm before and after a wonderful firework display. Lots of fun was had on Friday and I think we are all ready for next year again!”

Looking forward to next year!

We all had a great time at the cook off. Whether you like to sit back with a drink in your hand, show off your moves on the dance floor, or simply love eating chili... this event had something for everyone. We love when there are opportunities that allow us to support a non-profit organization and bring our team together.

I think this event will be one that we do each year moving forward!

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