Tom Bradney didn't really like chili when he was a younger.
Then he had to eat it once when he was 14 years old at hunting camp. He decided it wasn't too bad.
As a father of five children, Bradney often made large batches of chili and worked toward perfecting his recipe: smooth, with few chunks of tomatoes - very kid friendly.
Now, he sells it at market and eats it every time he works.
In April 2011, he got laid off after working for about 30 years in manufacturing and warehouse management. About six months later, he spiced up his career and opened The Chili Shack at Market and Penn Street Farmers' Market.
I first noticed The Chili Shack a few months ago and made a mental note to try it because I like chili. I stopped by to pick up some chili on a Friday. Bradney stood at his stand, which held slow cookers of two-bean, three-alarm, white-chicken and turkey chilis. Pies, cakes and cookies traced the front and side of the stand. I ordered a pint of turkey chili and a water and went on my way.
I ate half of it in my car before heading to another assignment - one of my less glamorous ways to dine. The base was thick and tangy, and the chili had a nice mix of meat and beans. My 10-year-old self would've loved it. I used to hate chunky vegetables in soups and chilis. These days, I say the more vegetables the merrier. However, it tasted good, and I would order it again.
Though Bradney had no experience in the food business, he said, his job today isn't much different than his past profession.
"You still have to take inventory. You still have production," said Bradney, 48, of Manheim Township. "It's food instead of somebody else's product."
Bradney's wife, Tammy, taught him how to bake. He makes blueberry, cherry, apple, lemon-meringue and minced-meat pies, among other desserts. He also sells sugar-free treats for people who are diabetic.
He does his food prep at YorKitchen - a shared, 24-hour commercial kitchen at Central Market, which can be rented by anyone. Yor-
Kitchen enabled him to start The Chili Shack because he didn't have to worry too much about overhead costs.
"It's awesome for someone who's trying to start a business," Bradney said.
He hopes to expand The Chili Shack to center city York, where he wants to open a small café and attract a lunch crowd. He also wants to sell prepared chili mixes at grocery stores.
Bradney said he knew he wanted to open his own business when he lost his job
because of the poor market for people in middle to upper management.
With his kids grown, he had the opportunity to try something new - kind of like the time he tried chili at hunting camp.
"I was just at the point in my life that I could take the chance and do it," Bradney said.
The Chili Shack
LOCATION: Market and Penn Street Farmers' Market, 380 W. Market St. in York
CUISINE: Chili and baked goods
LEIGH'S PICK: A pint of turkey chili and bottled water ($5)
HOURS: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday; 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
50 cents to $7
KID'S MENU: No
DETAILS: Call 717-330-3351
Cheap Eats profiles local restaurants, aiming to please our palates and our wallets. Reach Leigh Zaleski at 717-771-2101, email@example.com, @leighzaleski.