Skip to main content
Decorated table at the Chancellor's Chili Fest

Chancellor dishes on favorite ingredients heading into annual Chili Fest

By Blake Sebring

October 18, 2023

Through the first six servings of the Chancellor’s Chili Fest, Ron Elsenbaumer has been known to ladle out a spicy concoction or two. During one of his favorite days of the year, Purdue University Fort Wayne’s chancellor also makes the rounds to every table, welcoming attendees and asking how everything tastes.

The seventh annual event will be Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the International Ballroom at Walb Student Union. Last year, more than 750 members of the campus community shared stories and laughs—along with the food.

But what does the chancellor prefer in his bowl? While working at the University of Texas at Arlington, he learned a trick or two.

“One of the recipes that I like has a little bit of mustard in it, and that gives it a little bit of tang—an unusual tang other than just spice,” Elsenbaumer said. “A long time ago, we had a chili cookoff and had a whole bunch of different recipes. That was the one actually that most people liked. That’s the one that I liked.”

As for his other ingredients, Elsenbaumer said he uses Beyond Burgers crumbles along with standard chili ingredients and prefers red beans.

“I like mine a little spicy, but not overly, though,” he said. “A little bit of Tabasco sauce goes a long way.”

Last year, food services chefs started chopping 50 pounds of onions two days before the event, along with 50 pounds of peppers, 20 pounds of jalapenos, and 10 pounds of assorted other peppers. The proteins included 120 pounds of hamburger, 10 pounds of beef tips, and 40 pounds of chicken. After the spices were added, between 180 and 200 gallons of chili were ready for consumption.