BASF, Turner Industries team up in chili cookoff to help United Way

Staff reports

GEISMAR – Fourteen teams of employees from BASF’s Geismar site and Turner Industries recently stirred up fun and flavor for a good cause, holding a chili cook-off to benefit the United Way’s disaster relief fund.

Lines began forming at 10 a.m. at the BASF Geismar site’s picnic grounds on Oct. 29 as people waited to sample several versions of the spicy cold-weather favorite. More than 400 $5 tickets to sample varieties of chili that ranged from old-fashioned ground beef to spicy lamb and black bean were sold to help provide a boost to the United Way’s disaster relief fund following hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

“Our disaster relief fund helped provide those in need with 173,000 meals, 490,000 pounds of food and 250,000 gallons of water after this year’s hurricanes,” said Edith Wright, a campaign associate with the Capital Area United Way, who addressed the crowd. “We could never provide this kind of assistance without your help.”

The cook-off was the first fundraising event for the United Way co-hosted jointly by BASF and Turner, which has more than 500 contracted employees working at BASF’s Geismar site. The two companies will also be running their annual fundraising campaigns concurrently in 2009 to continue to help the United Way rebuild its disaster relief fund.

“Our teaming up with Turner Industries shows that all employees at BASF’s Geismar site will do everything we can to support the Capital Area United Way,” said Scott Brandenburg, the 2008 United Way Chairman for the Geismar site. “The United Way is busy helping those in need from the recent hurricanes, and, as a result, will have an even greater need for our support this year.”

Turner Industries Marketing Director Tobie Craig, who also serves as a member of the Capital Area United Way board said, “We have a large presence here on the site, and we definitely want all of our employees to get involved.”

The event was decided by a panel of judges from BASF, Turner Industries and the United Way. Trophies were awarded to teams finishing in the top three.

First place went to the BASF team of Brent Broussard, Nancy Rodriguez and Dave Vavrek. Broussard said the key elements to making the team’s ground beef and bean chili were good help and a unique approach.

“The biggest thing I do differently is browning the onions before I put in the meat,” said Broussard, who served as his team’s captain. “Most people don’t do that.”

Taking home second place was the Turner Industries team of Robert Reine and Pete Gautreau. Third place was awarded to BASF’s Myron Dedeaux and Jeff Roullier.

The Capital Area United Way is a nonprofit organization that raises money to provide support to its 49 member agencies in the 10-parish Capital Area, which includes Ascension Parish. For more information on the United Way chapter and its member agencies, visit