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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

VPR Chili Champion’s Recipe: ‘East Meets West’

Angela Evancie
"Vermont Edition's" Chili Cook-Off had eight entries from staff and several local chefs. VPR's Ty Robertson was the overall winner with an "East Meets West" chili.

At lunchtime, a group of over 25 VPR staff came together for an important task: to judge chili. Vermont Edition’s Chili Cook-Off had eight entries with a wide range of key ingredients, including zucchini, bison, butternut squash and curry.

The judges joyfully tasted each chili and nibbled on corn bread, drinking milk in between to cleanse their palates. With over 75 votes cast, VPR’s Ty Robertson upset the contest, beating out a food writer and chef, winning with a recipe she’d made for the first time ever.

Curry was one of the ingredients that set Ty’s chili above the rest. Although she got the base of the recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, she says she never follows a recipe completely. “It was an improvisation, which is what I really think should be going on in the kitchen anyway. Recipes are really meant to be launching points and you go from there with the flavors you love and how big you want it to go,” she says.

Ty Robertson’s "East Meets West" Chili


  • 1.5 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 large sweet onions (3 cups or more), chopped
  • Garlic! As much as you like. I use 6 cloves, minced
  • 1 28 oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes with liquid, roughly chopped
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 15 oz cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 red peppers, diced
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 4 tablespoons Mexican- style chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons hot curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt to taste  
Credit Angela Evancie / VPR
Ty Robertson displays the prizes she won for coming in first place for her "East Meets West" chili.

Optional garnishes:

  • Slivered almonds
  • Raisins
  • Sour cream
  • Cheese


  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, brown the meat in a splash of olive oil for a couple of minutes, breaking the meat up as it cooks.
  2. Next, add the onions and cook until transparent, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook another minute or two.
  4. Add red peppers and cook another minute or two.
  5. Add tomato sauce, canned tomatoes with their liquid, beans and broth.
  6. Bring to a boil, then simmer 30 minutes, uncovered.
  7. Add jalapenos, apples and seasonings and simmer another 30 minutes.

Madelyn Cataford's Cornbread Recipe


  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large can creamed corn (14 oz)
  • 1 cup grated cheese (Preferably Cheddar but you can use ½ Monterey Jack as well)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13” x 9” pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients together (flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt), set aside.
  3. Beat butter & sugar in large bowl; add eggs one at a time, beating after adding each one. Beat in corn & cheese.  Add dry ingredients & mix until combined. Pour into prepared pan.
  4. Place in oven and immediately reduce temperature to 300 degrees. Bake 50-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.  Top will still look moist.

Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
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