Caption info: Rotary President-Elect Scott Hoolahan, SCV Charity Chili Cook-Off creators Steve Potrero and Nicole Stinson, and Rotary Past President Steve Corn participated in a “pass the ladle” ceremony on March 1 at the club’s weekly meeting.
After 10 years of managing, nurturing and expanding the SCV Charity Chili Cook-Off, creators Nicole Stinson and Steve Potrero decided they had taken the classic event as far as their work schedules allowed and, in a bittersweet ceremony, handed off their leadership duties to the Rotary Club of Santa Clarita Valley.
During the ceremony, which took place at the club’s March 1 meeting, the couple “passed the ladle” to Rotary President-Elect Scott Hoolahan, who will be spearheading the project with the help of Past President Steve Corn.
Following the symbolic gesture, Stinson, a Realtor with Estate Realty Group, reflected on the 10-year labor of love, which started out as doodles on a cocktail napkin.
“I wanted to develop a new community fundraising concept. The Santa Clarita Valley is known for its big-money fund-raisers – auctions and galas largely geared to adults. I wanted one that catered more to families and kids, and one that would support some of the lesser-known charities in our valley,” Stinson said in the release. “As I began researching SCV benefits, I discovered one area that had been overlooked – the chili cook-off.”
What debuted in 2012 as an evening event, with 10 aspiring chili chefs, has grown to showcase the talents of more than 40 chefs and amassing more than $300,000 during its 10-year run. Stinson credits the growth to the marketing skills of Potrero. “With Steve’s social media expertise, the competition has attracted chefs from as far away as Nebraska. Last year, we not only had adults cooking up their unique recipes, but we also had students from a few of our high schools competing,” Stinson said.
As the popularity and competition grew, the cook-off began requiring more and more of the couple’s time. “Steve and I found that we were spending over six months of the year planning, organizing, and implementing the event,” said Stinson. “In the past four years, it has grown into a full-time job. We knew it was time to hand over the responsibilities, including ‘the ladle,’ to an organization that has experience putting on food-related events. Because of the successes of their peach cobbler booth at the city’s Cowboy Festival and their annual Fourth of July pancake breakfasts, we decided that the members of the Rotary Club of Santa Clarita were a perfect fit.”
Stinson and Potrero began talking about the possibility to Rotarians Steve Corn and Scott Hoolahan earlier this year – conversations that led to the March 1 passing of the ladle.
Hoolahan accepted the ladle, saying, “We thank Steve and Nicole for giving us the opportunity to continue their legacy. We plan to carry on the event in their spirit and tradition.”
To get the new venture off to a positive start, Stinson and Potrero announced that they will be the first to sign up for the 2023 cooking competition. Another first, according to Hoolahan, includes making the event even more family-friendly by changing its time to the afternoon.
“We are proud to announce that the cook-off will take place on the afternoon of October 7,” announced Hoolahan, “and the SCV Senior Center has graciously agreed to provide the venue for our 2023 chili chefs.”