A group of students participated in the Chilton County beef cook-off competition Tuesday.  In addition to the cook-off, students were challenged with the task of creating tablescapes for their tables in preparation for the beef dishes served at lunch.
A group of students participated in the Chilton County beef cook-off competition Tuesday.
In addition to the cook-off, students were challenged with the task of creating tablescapes for their tables in preparation for the beef dishes served at lunch.

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Students participate in county beef cook-off competition

Published 3:35pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Students from Maplesville, Thorsby and Jemison High schools participated in a Chilton County beef cook-off competition Tuesday.

“The purpose of the event is to train the youth to become more involved in learning how to cook beef,” Alabama Cooperative Extension Agent Josine Walter said. “The students also learn the nutritional aspects of eating beef including the benefits of zinc, iron and protein.”

The Alabama junior/senior high beef cook-off was originally started in 1961 by the Alabama CowBelles.

The organization is now known as the Alabama Cattlewomen’s Association.

The event started as a cooking contest but sparked enough interest in high school home economics students and teachers that the CowBelles started holding competitions in each county.

The winners from each county move on to compete in a state beef cook-off competition each year.

Walter said those participating in the cook-off were required to find a recipe with beef as one of the ingredients, cook the recipe and present the cooked recipe to judges on Tuesday.

Pam New, Ann Gore and Luis Mendoza were the three judges selected for the cook-off competition and spent much of the morning on Tuesday judging the recipes. They were asked to judge each dish on presentation, taste intensity, overall taste and nutritional value.

Judges sampled the various dishes on presentation, taste intensity, overall taste and nutritional value.
Judges sampled the various dishes on presentation, taste intensity, overall taste and nutritional value.

“Some of the submissions did better than others,” New said. “You had some that looked really good but didn’t necessarily taste as great and then you had others that tasted delicious. Overall, everyone did a great job.”

While judges sampled the various dishes, students were challenged with the task of creating tablescapes for their tables in preparation for the beef dishes served at lunch.

“We want them to get in the practice of learning how to entertain for guests if they were to have a dinner party or something,” Walter said. “The students were told they could use anything they found in this room for their table and were told to take into consideration how many people would be in their dinner party and what they would be serving.”

Judges went around surveying the different tablescapes and selected winners including first place winners from Maplesville High School.

The group of females from Maplesville High School found different items including a basket filled with apples, pumpkins, pinecones and fruit.

“We also used slinkies as napkin holders,” Danielle Taylor said.

Cameshia Wyatt donated her chevron print scarf that served as the table runner to the various decorations the girls assembled.

After the tablescapes winners were announced, Walter announced the winners for the junior/senior high cook-off who received cash prizes from the Chilton County Cooperative Extension office.

Each student who submitted a dish also won a $10 cash prize from the Cattlewomen’s Association.

Junior winners included Avery Porter who won third place and $20, Jessica Taylor who won second place and $35 and Tessa Gray who took home the first place category and $40 for her taco bake.

Gray said she found the recipe from her mom and enjoys the recipe because it is easy and only takes 20 minutes to make.

“This is my fifth time making the recipe and it isn’t hard at all,” Gray said.

The senior division winners were third place winner Beverly Campbell for aloha burgers who took home a $20 cash prize; second place winner Katie Watley for her Southwestern flank steak and salsa dip and $35 cash prize; and first place winner Emma Powell who won for her Southwestern steak wraps $40.

Jemison High School's Emma Powell was the first place winner in the senior division who won $40 for her Southwestern steak wraps.
Jemison High School’s Emma Powell was the first place winner in the senior division who won $40 for her Southwestern steak wraps.

Powell said she found the recipe for her winning dish online as she is currently learning how to cook.

“Cooking is a new thing for me,” Powell said. “I found the recipe and thought it sounded good so I tried it and it turned out really well.”

Although all of the winners for the cook-off were female, several male students were present Tuesday with one group of males leading a demonstration for a “game day menu.”

Rachel Rachels, who is a beef producer, spoke to the students and thanked them for learning to cook with beef.

“As a beef producer it is important that we influence the young consumers,” Rachels said. “It is a good thing to know how to cook with beef because when you are purchasing beef it is an investment, and you want to make the most out of the product you have just purchased.”

Norma Mims is a member of the Cattlewomen’s Association and has been involved with the cattle industry for more than 40 years.

“This means a lot to me to see the youth interested in learning more about beef,” Mims said. “I have been around cattle for many years, and it is important to train the youth to become interested in this industry.”

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