Innovation Fund 2017: Revival Chili

The 2017 Innovation Fund, our annual crowdfunding competition, has officially launched! You can find all of the Innovation Fund participants here. Read on for the story of Revival Chili, the living entrepreneurship classroom that serves up the best chili in the nation, created by Jordan Robarge ’15. 

Who we are

Chili is our food, it is our passion, and it is our way of life.

People often ask, how did you get a name like Revival Chili? Well for one, we prepare some of the best chili in the nation. But, the name isn’t just about the food; it’s about the people that create it.  Revival Chili is about the chili, the people, and what it all means.

The food simply put, is amazing, and this isn’t your lazy slow cooker recipe. We DO NOT just throw some ingredients in a crock-pot and call it a day. At Revival Chili, we go the extra mile every damn time. Every ingredient, from the meat to the veggies, and the spices that tie it all together are meticulously crafted. Designed so that from the first bite to the last scraping of the bowl, you just can’t get enough.

All of these flavors are combined and work together in the pot to push the flavor and overall, create something amazing. We ALWAYS look after it, nurture it, and show it a lotta love. If you haven’t tried our classic beef or vegetarian three bean, then friend, you just haven’t tried chili. But the thing is, we don’t just apply these ideas to the chili – we also apply them to our employees.


Our mission

Revival Chili is dedicated to employing some of America’s most overlooked citizens: ex-offenders.

Many people think that when a person leaves jail, their life starts fresh, but for most returning citizens this isn’t the case. Roughly two-thirds of the 650,000 people who will be released this year will find themselves unemployed and back in jail within the next 3 years. Sometimes these individuals put themselves back in jail simply because they are looking for a warm place to sleep. We want to change that trend. 

Revival Chili is on a mission to hire ex-convicts and help them master their skills with food preparation, handling money, customer service, inventory management and so much more. We are teaching them how to get back on their feet, manage their time and finances, and find housing – things that many of us take for granted.

We want to change the perception of ex-convicts because they are some of the best damn employees we have ever worked with. We take that commitment one step further though. It is our pledge to help those dedicated employees start their own business in Pittsburgh and beyond. We empower our employees with living wages, professional development, and entrepreneurial spirit. In turn, they help spread the great Revival Chili vibes and create a community, a family, a lifestyle.


A way of life

Great chili and empowering people are just part of our philosophy. But chili is also a way of life, it brings people together. I remember my family dinners where we ALWAYS had enough leftovers to feed our town. My parents were always thinking of someone else when they made the chili. That is what has stuck with me because chili is best prepared and shared with large groups. Just as all the ingredients are brought together in the pot, the same is true of everyone around the table.

Even during college, chili was always bringing my friends together. My fraternity devoted two days every year to chili. Just the process of cooking chili and eating it brought all the brothers together. These times created some of the best college memories. That feeling of nostalgia for family and brotherhood is why Revival Chili is about bringing people together.

So how did we get a name like Revival Chili? It’s simple really, we are on a mission to bring great food and empowering people together. Create a living entrepreneurial classroom for an underprivileged group. Serve up the best chili in the nation and help our society, one bowl at a time.





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