By JUDY SHERIDAN
ALEDO – Terry Hyles, agile antelope hunter and chief chili cook for the City of Aledo’s annual chili supper — set for Saturday, Jan. 26 — may well be hanging up his 10-gallon chef’s hat after this year’s event.
“I’ll be supervising, but then I’m going to step out,” he said. “I’ve got some other people.”
Hyles has lent his steady aim and culinary skillset to the city since 1986 or ‘87, when he first picked up his gun — and his cast iron grill — to support Aledo’s Community Center.
He knows better than anyone that the day ahead is a long one — from 8 a.m. to midnight — and looks forward to being in the background instead of front and center.
When he first began, the city was raising money for tennis courts, he said. Now the yearly shindig — $5 for adults, $3 for kids — aims to lower the facility’s rental fees.
Last year, three young — or at least younger — men stepped up to the pot in an attempt to fill the big shoes of Hyles, Glenn Baker and Pete Mason, all longtime chili cooks who still stalk the Colorado meadows in September but have mostly retired from the kitchen.
“Pete may help a little bit,” Hyles said. “Like me, it’s hard for him to get it out of his system. He might, or he might not.”
These stalwart new apprentices recruited by Hyles — Mike Hale, of State Farm, Chad Bagley of Edward Jones and Andy Edwards, an attorney with Frac-Tech — have re-upped and will continue on their path to multi-spice mastery.
Last year, area residents forked over about $2,400 for exotic or not so exotic chili — antelope, venison or just beef — plus all the extras: saltines, fritos, jalapeno peppers, grated cheese and sweetened or unsweetened tea.
Homemade pies and cakes — made famous by the likes of Helen Hyles and Dub Bearden — sweetened the deal.
This year it’s the same, Hyles said, but he’s boosting the antelope. Last year, chefs ran out early.
“We’ve got the meat ground from two antelope in the freezer — 41 pounds,” he said, “It’s so sweet and tender, absolutely the best; everybody had a fit over it last year.”
Hyles has enough venison ready to “get started” but needs more.
“I haven’t shot a deer this year,” he said, “but I have three grandsons.”