Penrod Blog

Meet the First Winner of Penrod’s Annual Chili Contest!

Our winner proves that if you bring vegetarian chili to a contest, it's anything but chicken.

By Matt Fiel, Director of Marketing


It wasn’t easy. There were two other vegan competitors, a chicken chili, and a delicious ‘normal’ that tasted like pure Wisconsin in a bowl. To make matters worse, the office was still reeling from a Slack war-of-words that shook us to our core – what is a chili exactly? Does it need to have beans? Can it have noodles?

But we put aside our differences for the greater good – after all, there was chili to be eaten, votes to be tallied, and glory to be bestowed upon a new Penrod chili champion.

Mary's winning chili

In the end, it was Mary Ganchar’s soy chorizo chili that rose from the ashes of our arguments, inspiring the best of our natures. Why soy chorizo? As a vegetarian, Mary found herself missing the typical ‘meat dishes’ that she had grown accustom to. In her words:

I wanted to create a chili that was vegan but also tasted similar to what my mom used to make. I essentially used the same base ingredients as a beef chili but swapped out the meat for soy chorizo, one of my favorite meat substitutes. It’s spicy, zesty, and really kicks up the flavors.

Even greater than the win, one thing is certain – Mary’s mom would be proud of this recipe.

The recipe


  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 green pepper
  • Minced garlic (~3-4 tsp)
  • Olive oil
  • 3 packets of Chili Seasoning Mix Mild
  • 3 cans (14oz) diced tomatoes
  • 3 cans (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 can kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 can pinto beans (drained)
  • 1 package Soy Chorizo


  1. Chop the onion, celery, and green pepper (equal sizes)
  2. In a large stock pot, sauté the onion, celery, and garlic in olive oil
  3. Add the green pepper once the onions and celery start to become translucent
  4. Add the 3 packets of chili seasoning mix onto the sautéed onions, celery, garlic, and green pepper
  5. Add the 3 cans of diced tomatoes + 1 cans worth of water
  6. Add the 3 cans of tomato sauce
  7. Add the drained beans
  8. Bring to a boil
  9. Add the soy chorizo
  10. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes
  11. Enjoy with toppings of your choosing!