LAPLACE — Everyone knows America’s fire stations are home to some of the best cooks in the country.
Of course, Louisiana firefighters are on a whole other level.
So when Donna Chauvin heard about Hormel’s America’s Best Firehouse Chili Contest, she knew her firefighter son Jeremy had to enter and they could do it “The Spencer Way.”
Jeremy is the younger brother of Spencer Chauvin, the St. John the Baptist Parish District Chief who was killed while working the scene of a car crash on Interstate 10 last August.
Known for his willingness to help others and his work ethic, Spencer’s legacy has become known as “The Spencer Way” to do things.
Jeremy and his younger brother, Lance, also are longtime firefighters in St. John Parish, as were their father and grandfather.
Together the Chauvin family figured entering the contest would be another way to remember their fallen brother and help those left behind.
The contest winner receives $10,000 for their fire station. Hormel also will donate $20,000 to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Second and third place winners each will receive $2,500 for their stations, plus a nice supply of chili products.
“I kept thinking about it and I just said, ‘You know, this is a way Spencer could continue to help his department,’” Donna Chauvin said.
“I talked to Jeremy and said, ‘We’ve got to do this.’”
It wasn’t hard to find a chili recipe.
Donna has been replicating her dad’s chili for years for her children and grandchildren.
“It’s comfort food,” she said. “Whenever they’re not feeling well, they always want chili, so I keep it in the freezer.”
The hard part was putting the actual recipe together.
“I don’t cook from a recipe,” she said. “I add this and add that. I had to sit down and try to write it all down.”
Because the entrant has to be a firefighter, Jeremy entered in memory of Spencer, composing a beautifully written summary of who Spencer was, what he meant to the community and how to cook chili “The Spencer Way.”
“My brother Spencer was a wonderful person and became a great leader in the fire department,” Jeremy wrote.
“He loved everything about firefighting and loved being able to help and serve others. He has become my hero and the hero of our department and of our community. It is in his honor and memory that we, the brotherhood of St. John the Baptist Parish Fire Department dedicate this recipe to his legacy.”
Jeremy’s recipe made the first round of cuts and is now in the Top 10. Fans can vote after registering at hormelfirehousechilicontest.prizelogic.com.
Voting ends July 21. The top three vote-getters will be invited to New York City to prepare the recipe for the finals.
St. John Parish Fire Chief of Operations Cain Dufrene said the winnings would go to Jeremy’s station in Reserve.
“They could use a few upgrades over there,” he said.
All of Jeremy’s fellow firefighters are rooting for him.
“It would be a great inspiration,” said Travis Etie. “Jeremy’s a great guy. He’s put a lot of work and effort into this. I think it would benefit him, the guys that work over there and this department.”