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Squirrels Chili Cook-off 2018: Fussing Over Spilled Chili


Squirrels Chili Cook-off Champions

It’s that time of year again: the annual Squirrels Chili Cook-off!

One of many traditions here at Squirrels is an annual company-wide chili competition. Employees share and taste test home-cooked chilis before a vote is held to crown a champion.

The winner takes home the annual Squirrels Chili Cook-off trophy for a year.

This year’s winner is account executive Sean Courtney (pictured right) with his “Kevin’s Spilled Chili” submission. This is his first win and first chili cook-off appearance. Courtney dethrones reigning Squirrels Chili Cook-off champion Connal Kelly.

“I don’t even know where to begin. This feels incredible,” Courtney said. “Winning the 2018 Squirrels Chili Cook-off is something I’ll never forget.”

“Kevin’s Spilled Chili” may sound familiar to fans of a popular NBC sitcom. That nostalgia factor was absolutely intentional.

“The title of my chili is almost as important as the ingredients,” Courtney said. “I love ‘The Office’ and so do a lot of people at Squirrels. I named my chili after a favorite episode.”

Well played, Courtney. Well played. Find the award-wining recipe below.

The episode of “The Office” in question tells the saga of accountant Kevin Malone and an ill-fated pot of homemade chili. When Kevin decides to share his chili with his coworkers … well, watch for yourself:



“I wanted to draw people in with a clever name and leave them wanting more with a great taste,” Courtney said. “The meats create a bold combination of flavors and textures. Plus, three types of peppers really crank up the heat.”

Here’s the winning recipe:

Kevin’s Spilled Chili

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 1 ½ pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 ½ pounds chorizo
  • 1 ½ pounds sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced (for spicier chili, leave seeds in)
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
  • ½ of 2.5 ounce can of chopped green chiles
  • 6 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 4 teaspoons paprika powder
  • 24 ounces Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale Beer
  • 29 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 30 ounces tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Black beans and queso fresco cheese for garnish


  1. Brown the ground sirloin and chorizo over medium heat in a large pot. Drain and set aside.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to cast iron skillet. Add steak and cook over medium heat for 6-7 minutes (or until medium to medium-rare). Set aside.
  3. Add remaining olive oil, onions, garlic, bell peppers, jalapeno, poblano pepper and green chiles to the large pot and cook for 5 mins.
  4. Add drained meat, steak, beer, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and paprika to the pot and cover.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1-2 hours. Stir occasionally.
  6. Top with queso fresco cheese, black beans or your favorite chili garnish.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

What’s next for Sean? Will he defend his title in next year’s Squirrels Chili Cook-off or hang up his ladle while he’s still ahead?

"You'll have to stay tuned for the decision," he said.

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