F&B Spotlight: Corporate Groups Get Spicy with Chili Making at Skytop

Skytop Chef Jarrod Seaman

Chili, that beloved dish made of chopped meat, onions, garlic, and cayenne pepper is also popular way to build team camaraderie at Skytop, a 1920s-era Poconos mountain resort located in Skytop, PA.

Groups are divided into teams and given all the ingredients and equipment needed to create some top-notch chili. Best of all, there is no right or wrong way to make chili, it all depends on one's taste buds.

 "I provide them with ground beef, vegetables, peppers, onion, fresh jalapenos, and a whole array of spices," says Banquet Chef Jarrod Seaman who has worked at Skytop for 14 years. "If they need a 'secret' ingredient, I am happy to oblige. One team asked for dark chocolate that they added to their recipe."

The chili is then plated by the group -- and creativity again comes into play. Garnishes, signs, and funky folded napkins can all help take a team's chili to the next level. 

"We encourage our groups to have a lot of fun in this no-pressure type of teambuilding activity," says Seaman who is then given the task of judging each pot of chili. "I do try to teach them some cooking skills along the way."

Seaman has tried his fair share of chili over the years. Some of it outstanding, some not so much. "I had one group who put a whole can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in their pot. I started sweating the moment I ate it."

This historic Lodge sits on 5,500 pristine acres with wooded mountain slopes, a 75-acre lake, waterfalls, over 30 miles of hiking trails, and an 18-hole golf course where deer quietly grazing is a common site. The Lodge has 125 standard rooms or mini-suites; 10 four-bedroom cottages; and a 20-room luxury inn that sits on the golf course.

When it's time to get down to business, Skytop features 17 meeting rooms, a 4,200-square-foot ballroom, and many executive suites. Its executive conference center has 10,000 square feet of space for meetings -- or chili making. 

Recipe: Skytop Chili
1 pound of ground beef
1 onion medium diced
1 green bell pepper medium diced
1 red bell pepper medium diced
1 jalapeno pepper small diced
2 cloves garlic shaved
½ ounce Cilantro chopped
½ ounce of thyme chopped
2 ounces tomato paste
8 ounces diced plum tomatoes (fresh in season)
1 can black beans
4 tablespoons dark chili powder
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons chipotle paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pint water
In a deep pan season ground meat and brown. Drain off any excess fat from pan. In a separate pan while meat is cooking toast all dry spices just until you are able to smell aroma from them. Add dry spices to meat after it has browned and excess fat has been removed. Next add garlic, onions, and peppers cook until caramelized. Stir in tomato paste, diced tomatoes, black beans, chipotle paste and water. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add in cilantro and thyme simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning and spice as desired.