For the past few years, Cherry Republic has donated cherry products for the culinary students at Holland’s Careerline Tech Center to use in their annual chili cookoff. Working in groups of two, students chefs are tasked with creating an award-winning chili recipe, using one Cherry Republic ingredient. Attracting students from throughout Ottawa County, the program includes 48 students, who are split into a morning session and an afternoon session. Each session had 12 teams vying for the top prize.
But here’s the fun part. The students don’t get to choose which Cherry Republic product they get. Culinary Manager Jill Landman — a longtime friend of Bob Sutherland — explains that the donated product is sorted, and a card representing each product is created. One person from each team then draws a card and creates a chili which must include that Cherry Republic product.
But here’s the fun part. The students don’t get to choose which Cherry Republic product they get.
“We have five judges, and some years Bob will come here to judge and takes the time to discuss the entrepreneurial spirit and how he started his company,” Jill says.
This year’s AM session winners were The Chili Crusaders, a/k/a Jake Phipps, a junior at Grand Haven Area Public Schools, and Dejah Pico, a senior at West Ottawa Public Schools. Their winning Chocolate Lamb American Chili used Cherry Republic Cherry Jam. And the afternoon session winners were The Squash Bucklers, a/k/a Madison Austin, a senior at Hudsonville Public Schools, and Mike Galicia, a senior at Black River Public School! Their winning recipe for Squashbuckler Butternut Squash Chili used Cherry Republic Cherry Jelly.
Congratulations to the winning students, and we can’t wait to try out these amazing recipes!
Chocolate Lamb American Chili
Makes 6 servings
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds lamb cubed 1″ pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper and dusted with flour
1 onion, small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1 cup beef broth
2 jalapenos, seeds and membrane removed, fine dice
4 ounces Cherry Republic Cherry Jam
1-ounce dark chocolate, chopped
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
28 ounces dark red chili beans
28 ounces diced tomatoes with their juice
Salt and pepper to taste
- Over medium heat, sauté the lamb cubes until browned. Hold to the side.
- Add onions and garlic to the saute’ pan and cook until tender.
- Return meat to the pan and add the remaining ingredients.
- Stir to incorporate all ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Once at a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about two hours or until lamb is tender.
- Adjust seasoning as needed.
Butternut Squash Chili
1 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 large carrot, small dice
1 celery stalk, small dice
1 small onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
14 ounces Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
2 ½ cups chicken or turkey stock
½ cup heavy cream
2 cups butternut squash (cooked and cubed)
2 cups fresh kale, cooked and juice squeezed out
¼ cup Cherry Republic Cherry Jelly
2 medium size jalapenos (seeds and membrane removed), fine dice
Salt and pepper to taste
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan add olive oil
- Add ground turkey and cook until browned
- Add carrot, celery and onion and cook until tender
- Add garlic, and cook until tender
- Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil
- Once at a boil, reduce temperature and simmer for an hour or more.
- Adjust seasoning to taste.