A-C-T’s Chili Cook Off Shatters Records for United Way

BARTOW, FL (March 8, 2019)— Today, A-C-T Environmental & Infrastructure’s ninth annual Chili Cook-off shattered previous years’ records.  The flavorful event raised $24,255 in 120 minutes – a 61.4 percent increase over last year! This brings the annual cook-off’s 9-year total to $72,840 – all for the United Way of Central Florida.

A-C-T’s Jennifer Kincart Jonsson, who also serves as the firm’s United Way Employee Coordinator, had a vision for making the Chili Cook Off a signature awareness event for the company’s annual fundraising campaign – one that would have broad appeal and grow to involve as many community members as possible.

Since 2010, this event has raised funds that directly benefits our local communities through programs supported by the United Way of Central Florida. This year, approximately 500 attendees tested their taste buds on a record 56 chili entries (all donated) in three categories – mild, imaginative and hot.

“People want to support our community,” Jonsson said. “We love that we have become an annual ‘must attend’ event because ever dollar goes back into our community through the United Way.”

Judges in the hot category were: Roger Todd (97.5 WPCV), Christina Criser Jackson (United Way of Central Florida) and Greg Littleton (Citizens Bank & Trust).

Mild category judges were: Rep. Melony Bell (Florida House, District 56), Ed Crenshaw (Publix Super Markets and United Way Campaign Chair) and Chef Marcos Fernandez (Nineteen61).

Judges in the imaginative category were: the Honorable Adam Putnam, Major Ian Floyd (Polk County Sheriff’s Office) and Seth McKeel (Southern Strategy Group).

Each judge made their way through the various chili entries, judging on five elements including aroma, color, consistency, taste and aftertaste.  Their combined average scores determined the 2019 winners.

A-C-T announced first, second and third place overall high scoring winners and presented trophies to the 2019 top chefs:

  • 1st Place Overall – Yadira Holmes for her “Mean Girl Chili” (hot category entry)
  • 2nd Place Overall – Sharon Casey with her “Spicy Chili Trinity” (hot category entry)
  • 3rd Place Overall – Pam Merashoff and her “Chili Chili Bang Bang” (hot category entry)


Specific category winners, each of whom received a certificate, were:

Mild Category:

  • 1st Place – Jamie Clark Southern Soul  Chili
  • 2nd Place – Michael LagroneKing Cobra Chili
  • 3rd Place – Rick Johnson  – Johnson’s Chow

Imaginative Category:

  • 1st Place – Jason HuffmanJack Creeks II
  • 2nd Place – Kara KatzarasIt’s In There
  • 3rd Place – Jeri CartwrightWinter Comfort

Hot Category:

  • 1st Place – Yadira HolmesMean Girl Chili
  • 2nd Place – Sharon Casey Spicy Chili Trinity
  • 3rd Place – Pam Merashoff  Chili Chili Bang Bang

For more information, contact A-C-T at 863-533-2000 or Chili2@A-C-T.com.


About A-C-T:  A-C-T is an established multi-disciplined professional environmental, engineering and field services firm with expertise in a range of areas, including environmental sciences, engineering, industrial hygiene, industrial services, infrastructure, waste management and emergency response.  A-C-T employs nearly 100 full-time, part-time and contract professionals from its offices in Bartow, Gainesville, Orlando, Naples Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, and Sarasota. The firm has been recognized as one of Florida Trend’s Top 100 Companies to Work For and is also a Polk Works Employer of Distinction and Best Places to Work.  A-C-T is also Bartow’s Committee of 100’s 2012 Green Business of the Year.  For more information about A-C-T, visit www.A-C-T.com.