Physics prof wins chili cookoff; $2,045 raised
Tad ThurstonProf. Tad Thurston, winner of the Faculty Association Chili Cook-Off

Physics Professor Tad Thurston has done it again — concocted the winning chili recipe for the Faculty Association’s annual contest.

“He is a regular winner,” said Librarian Ann Raia, one of the coordinators for the scholarship fundraiser, referring to Thurston’s Chili Cook-Off victory.

Eleven chefs entered this year, Raia said. Business professors Charles Myrick and Michael Machiorlatti took second place, and Gerree Rollins, sister of Professor Ginnett Rollins, took third place.

Several of the contestants have been trying to knock Thurston out of the top spot for years, Raia said.

In the past, contestants would just submit their name with the chili; however, this year the contest was changed to be anonymous and the contestants named their chili whatever they wanted, Raia said, making the judges unaware of whose chili belonged to whom.

Thurston submitted his chili under the name “Larry Chili.”

The name has a story behind it, he said.

“When my son was younger and working on his first essay using a word processor, the program asked him to name his file before he quit the program.

“He took it bit too literally and named it like a pet, calling his essay ‘Larry,’” Thurston said. “It’s been a bit of an inside joke in the family for a long time. So when the organizers said they’d like a name for my chili, I couldn’t resist and named it Larry.

As for Thurston’s recipe, “I’ll give it to anyone who asks,” he said. “If someone likes it, it would be great if they could enjoy it at home and change it to suit their tastes.”

There also was a silent auction at the scholarship fundraiser which had about 20 items.

The best selling auction item was lunch with President Paul Sechrist which ended up going for $250.

Between all the baked goods, chili and silent auction, $2,045 was raised, Raia said. The money will be allocated to student scholarships in the fall to help with tuition costs.

This scholarship fundraiser was one of a few that the Faculty Association puts on each year. In the fall there also is a soup contest and sometimes a garage sale.

Thurston said he plans to enter the soup contest this fall.

“Oh, sure,” he said about submitting a chili for next year.

“It’s a fun way to support the student scholarships and gets me connecting with people across campus I don’t typically see from day-to-day.”

Raia said the success of the fundraiser was due to the work of many volunteers who contributed to the fundraiser, from the cooks who made chili to the workers who served customers during the event.

To contact Joel Gwartney, email

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