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Chili/Chowder Cookoff returns to Souhegan Valley

AMHERST - Building on last year's success, the folks at Opportunity Networks and the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce will host their second annual Chili and Chowder Cookoff this weekend.

Opportunity Networks is an organization that helps disabled adults develop life skills most people take for granted. From holding down jobs to doing housework, and even cooking their own unique style of chili, the clients at Opportunity Networks are always up for new challenges. The nonprofit organization works to connect disabled people with job opportunities that allow them to earn their own money, develop strong work ethics and serve as active members of society.

On Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Amherst Business Center, the clients from Opportunity Networks with the help of the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce will welcome both professional and amateur competitors from around the state to come and show off their recipes for chili and chowder.

Wendy Hunt, community development director for Opportunity Networks, said last year's inaugural cook-off was great success, raising thousands of dollars for the program, while feeding hundreds of attendees from across the Souhegan Valley.

"We are back even bigger and better with the second annual Chili Chowder Cookoff," Hunt said.

The staff and clients at Opportunity Networks have been helping for weeks to prepare for the big event.

"Our clients do a little of everything to help with this event," said Hunt. They help me with the mailings, they help set up for the event, they cook chili in cooking class the week of, and they come eat the day of the event!"

Last year, dozens of cooks both professional and amateur showed up to the event, armed with ladles and crock pots, ready to vie against their competitors for the top awards, including "people's choice."

Restaurants from as far away as Manchester pitted their chili and chowder against general stores and local venues, while everyone from school superintendents to culinary arts students from Milford High School competed on the amateur level.

Tickets for the event are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for kids under 12. For more information visit


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