Dining With Denise Neil

Old Mill Tasty Shop reviving a favorite recipe from its original owner

Old Mill Tasty Shop owners celebrate award and new memorabilia

Mary Wright and her son, Don, discuss being named Restaurateur of the Year by the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association. They also explain about receiving new memorabilia related to previous owners Otto and Erna Woermke. Carrie Rengers/The W
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Mary Wright and her son, Don, discuss being named Restaurateur of the Year by the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association. They also explain about receiving new memorabilia related to previous owners Otto and Erna Woermke. Carrie Rengers/The W

Back in 2012, Wichita’s Old Mill Tasty Shop was turning 80, and that got owner Mary Wright feeling nostalgic.

She started thinking about the popular restaurant’s original owner, Otto Wermke, and reminiscing about his famous chili, which she used to eat with her dad when she was a kid.

Wright, who bought the restaurant at 804 E. Douglas from Wermke’s sister in 1982, makes a killer green chili. But she didn’t have the recipe for Otto’s famous red chili. She launched a campaign to see if anyone else did.

Eventually, she found it. A woman in Eufaula, Okla., mailed the recipe to Wright, saying that her husband — a firefighter — had been a regular diner at Old Mill when Wermke owned it. He loved the chili and managed to get Otto to share the recipe right before he moved to Oklahoma.

Wright served the chili for a while in 2012, even entering it in that year’s Wichita Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cookoff.

And now, five years later, she’s bringing it back.

Wright will begin serving Otto’s Famous Chili, made with chunks of steak and a beef-broth, on Saturday. She’ll keep it on the menu through the end of November.

By the way, Old Mill knows chili. They were the grand champions at this year’s Wagonmasters chili cookoff.

Wichita Eagle food writer Denise Neil set up a booth at the 2017's Old Town Chili Cookoff and quickly realized that it was a lot more work than she bargained for. (Travis Heying and Jaime Green/The Wichita Eagle)

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