Chef ready for annual Peach Cook-Off

Published 7:56 am Saturday, May 28, 2016

By Gay West | Chilton County Extension Office

The featured guest chef for the 2016 Chilton County Peach Festival Cook-Off is Nathan Wilkerson.

Self-described as “easy going and laid back,” Wilkerson admits he becomes a bit of a drill sergeant when he walks into a commercial kitchen. He begins barking orders to keep things on time and running smoothly in a professional setting.

Preparing a banquet for 600 people is easier for him than preparing a simple meal at home.

Guest chef: Nathan Wilkerson will be the featured guest chef for the 2016 Peach Festival Cook-Off, which is scheduled for June 18. (Contributed photo)

Guest chef: Nathan Wilkerson will be the featured guest chef for the 2016 Peach Festival Cook-Off, which is scheduled for June 18. (Contributed photo)

Wilkerson is originally from Selma but has called Clanton home for eight years. He worked in the automotive industry until an economic slump led him to seek another career. Since he loved to eat and loved to cook, culinary school seemed the next logical step.

He applied to Virginia College and was accepted into the six-month Culinard concentrated program. During his time there, he also worked in the warehouse as a purchasing agent.

After completing his training, he interned at the Marriott in Inverness and later worked at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery. He served as a banquet cook, house restaurant cook, and as a food and beverage purchasing agent.

Wilkerson said vegetables are at the top of his list of favorite foods to cook. The endless ways they can be combined and prepared provides variety to food preparation.

But baking anything other than cheesecakes falls to his wife.

The lure of a shorter drive and fewer hours at work led him back to work in the automotive industry at KUMI manufacturing, allowing him more free time with his six children and wife Saudra.

The Chilton County Peach Festival Cook-Off is open to everyone even if they do not enter a dish. The event will be held beginning at 10 a.m. June 18 at the Senior Connection building in the Park Plaza shopping center (near Fred’s and Farmers Home Furniture).

To register to enter a dish, call the Chilton County Extension Office at (205) 280-6268 for an entry form. Deadline for entries to be received is 4 p.m. June 15.

Wilkerson will prepare a peach dish at the cook-off but agreed to share one of his favorite vegetable recipes. Enjoy!



1 medium onion

1 medium eggplant

1 medium squash

1 medium zucchini

2 small tomatoes

1 head of garlic

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Peel head of garlic and mince. Peel onion, and remove seeds from eggplant, squash and zucchini. Cut all vegetables into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat, add onion and garlic. Once onion softens a bit, add remaining vegetables. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, or until vegetables reach desired level of doneness. (Wilkerson said he prefers his to still have a bit of crunch; you may prefer yours softer—that’s OK!) Salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

This dish is a traditional farmer’s dish, made to utilize whatever vegetables are fresh at the moment. Feel free to substitute vegetables as you desire, and adjust seasoning as you see fit. It’s food; enjoy it!