Presbyterians bring big guns to Covenant Corral Chili Cook-off

Ready to fire up interest in a blazing chili showdown are, left to right, Prosser Mayor Randy Taylor, Jason Rainer, Jeff Jensen and former White House Chef Jeff Wheatcroft.

Jeff Jensen
Ready to fire up interest in a blazing chili showdown are, left to right, Prosser Mayor Randy Taylor, Jason Rainer, Jeff Jensen and former White House Chef Jeff Wheatcroft.

— The organizers of the annual Covenant Presbyterian Church chili feed are stirring thing up a bit this year.

“We saw our feed was beginning to wane a bit, so we decided to fire things up a little,” event co-chair and chili chef Jeff Jensen said.

He and co-chairman Jason Rainer are planning a new event. They are calling it the Covenant Corral Chili Cook off, to take place from 5-7 p.m. Feb. 9 at the church, 912 Yakima Ave.

In the true spirit of the Old West where show-down challenges are not to be trifled with, Jensen and Rainer, who hope to raise more than the usual $1,500 for church camp scholarships, are promoting the event as a real contest with secret ingredients and out of town ringers.

This tale is best told as it happened, in the words of Jensen:

“It all started when Jeff Jensen, the head of the infamous Jensen clan, was wrapping up another year of the long standing, always successful, Chili Feed at Covenant Presbyterian Church.

“As he was cleaning up, he was approached by Jason Rainer, the notorious law man, and leader of the Rainer Posse.

“Mr. Rainer wanted to congratulate Mr. Jensen on a successful event.

“Great job Jeff, another full house and full bellies,” Mr. Rainer said.

In a very proud manner, Mr. Jensen proceeded to tell Mr. Rainer that his grandmother’s chili recipe was the key to the success of this long running fundraiser event. Mr. Rainer agreed, however, he felt that his secret recipe would “smoke Mr. Jensen’s traditional recipe”.

“I reckon I got a recipe that will bring ‘em in the doors faster than what you’re working with there,” he said.

Jensen scoffed at these silly remarks, “…this here chili has been bringing ‘em in for over a decade.”

Rainer replied, “…your chili is fine. It darn near brings in the whole town. But when folks smell my beans a brewin’ they’ll come from all over the valley.”

As the debate continued and grew more intense the fine Mayor of Prosser, the honorable Randy Taylor, stepped in with the answer — “A Showdown.”

He looked each man in the eye with his steely gaze and said “…why don’t you boys put your beans where your mouth is?

“Next year you both bring your best chili recipe and we’ll let the fine folks of this here town decide.”

“A showdown it is,” declared the men.

“We’ll meet back here Friday, Feb. 9 with our best chili recipes and decide this once and for all,” they agreed.

As word spread about the showdown, Jensen started hearing whispers from the folks around town.

“That Jason Rainer sure is a heck of a cook. I think Jeff bit off more than he could chew this time.”

Being the competitive guy he is, there was no way Jensen was going to lose.

Even if he had to call in some help. So unbeknownst to Rainer, Jensen had a little ace up his sleeve.

See, Jensen has a good friend from down the valley who just happened to be a former chef at the White House, working for both George W. Bush and Barak Obama.

This renowned chef has prepared food for some of the most powerful people in the world. ‘There is no way Rainer can beat me with the help of this guy,” Jensen thought.

He sent word down to Tri- Cities for his band to find Chef Jeff Wheatcroft and let him know that his old compadre’s honor had been challenged in Prosser.

When word reached Wheatcroft, he was more than happy to help. He dug into his secret files from his time in the White House kitchen and brought out his famous unbeatable recipe.

Jensen was now feeling pretty good about his chances. So much that he couldn’t contain this bit of information. It wasn’t long before Jensen was bragging here and there around town to anyone who would give him an ear.

It didn’t take long for the rumor to spread that the leader of the Jensen Clan was bringing in a ringer.”

When Rainer caught wind of this, he was extremely disturbed. “Leave it to that dastardly Jeff Jensen to cheat,” he thought.

Rainer immediately went to the Mayor, who agreed with him.

Jensen has taken an unfair advantage. The only way to square things up was for him to throw his cowboy hat in the ring as well.

See, it seems that everyone had forgotten that Mayor Taylor had served as the “cookie” on many wagon trains in his youth. It was Taylor’s abilities in the kitchen and his sparkling personality that led to his popularity and eventual political career.

“I’ve got just the recipe to take down these infamous bandits,” Taylor said to Rainer.

“We’ll use my Succulent Squirrel Chili recipe from my wagon days,” he said.

After Rainer looked it over he agreed to the Mayor’s recipe.

“This looks great,” he said. “But we should probably come up with some other meat than squirrel,” said Rainer.

The mayor argued “…but there are so many (squirrels) around town we could easily catch enough to feed the whole valley.”

Much to his own chagrin, Mayor Taylor finally gave in.

There is no doubt that there will be a winner declared the night of the Showdown.

“Everyone will get to cast their vote and help settle this long running debate,” Jensen said.

Also on the menu is corn bread of the regular and jalapeno variety, served, with a hot, delicious cinnamon roll for dessert.

Tickets are available from any of the children, who attend Covenant’s Wednesday night program “Market Street Kids” or at the church office.

Tickets are also being sold at Sister To Sister,10 Merlot Drive, and KD’s Country Floral, 409 Wine Country Road or by calling 509-786-1594.


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