Texans know that a good bowl of chili can do many things: cure a cold, win a contest, fuel a cattle drive or mend a broken heart. The Rotary Club of Galveston’s chili also sends kids to music school, opens the doors at the Bryan Museum, and builds parks.
These and other accomplishments are possible with the proceeds of Wednesday’s annual Rotary Club Chili Supper, held from 5-8 p.m. at Ball High School.
“The chili supper is our primary fundraiser, and all the money we raise goes back into the community,” event chair Ruth Suhler explained. In the past 15 months, the Rotary Club has donated almost $50,000 toward the health, education and welfare of the community.
“The Rotary Foundation this year has donated funds for ten scholarships to Fanfare Music Academy, bought a vibraphone for the Ball High Band, and underwrites the Second Sunday program at the Bryan, which offers free admission to all and special activities for children,” Suhler said. Past years’ chili suppers have funded projects such as the renovation of Washington Park, a popular fishing spot on Offatts Bayou.
While the chili is the main draw, the Rotary Club also sells tamales and desserts at the event. The desserts are made by Rotarians, often from favorite family recipes, and by local supporters, including hotels, restaurants and the Galveston College culinary arts program.
While the dessert table varies from year to year, some chili fans have favorite sweets that they look for. Rotarian David Bowers’ pecan pie has made several appearances. “It’s a real crowd-pleaser, and I make it often,” Bowers said. “It’s a ‘Dear Abby’ recipe that ran in the paper May 5, 2005, and I’ve been making it ever since then.”
Sally Byrom’s chocolate chip cookies are another repeat treat.
“Every year, I bring the cookies to the chili supper,” she said. “This is the recipe I grew up making, and it originally came from a family friend. Every time I go home to Baton Rouge, I have to make some, or people get upset.”
Byrom’s recipe calls for shortening rather than butter, giving the cookies a crisp edge and a soft center.
“Some people in the family say the cookie dough is even better than the cookies,” she added.
Mary Brechtel’s lavender brownies were inspired by her success growing lavender, and enhanced with two kinds of chocolate, cocoa and milk chocolate.
“I made these brownies with lavender I grew at Indian Beach,” she said. “They are rich and chocolate-y.”
Like the desserts, the chili and tamales may be packaged to go, or eaten in the Ball High cafeteria.
“The chili is prepared by the cafeteria’s professional staff, and the Rotary Club does the serving and cleaning up,” Suhler said.
Take-out containers are available, though guests are encouraged to bring their own reusable containers for to-go orders. Patrons who opt to eat in the Ball High cafeteria are welcome to return for additional servings of chili.
Tickets for the chili supper are $10, with desserts $2 each. Tickets are available at the door, and free parking is available in the Ball High lot, on Avenue O, and in the large lot on the north side of Avenue O.