Pie, cake named top dishes in annual Peach Cook-Off

Serve up something peachy: Those who attended this year’s Peach Cook-Off on Saturday were allowed to sample participants’ dishes after winners were announced.

Serve up something peachy: Those who attended this year’s Peach Cook-Off on Saturday were allowed to sample participants’ dishes after winners were announced.

Chilton County peaches are delicious right off the tree, but there are also countless uses for the area’s famous fruit in dishes of all kinds.

Some of these dishes, and the county’s culinary talent, were on display Saturday at the annual Peach Festival Cook-off, sponsored by the Alabama Cooperative Extension, Chilton County Farmers Federation Women’s Committee and the Clanton Lions Club.

The event was held at Thorsby First Baptist Church.

About 20 people participated in the contest, which required dishes to be prepared using fresh Chilton County peaches.

While a group of four judges were sampling the entries and making their decision, participants watched Chilton County High School graduate and Culinard student Gaisha Williams prepare “Cowboy Caviar.” Williams also talked about and provided samples of her “Grilled Peach BBQ Chicken Wings.”

After the demonstration, winners were announced as listed below:

Youth Division: Peach Cook-Off Youth Division first- through third-place winners were Savannah Swindle, Ashley Beth Jones and Anna Calhoun. The winners are shown with Gaisha Williams, a Chilton County native and Culinard student who demonstrated cooking techniques.

Youth Division: Peach Cook-Off Youth Division first- through third-place winners were Savannah Swindle, Ashley Beth Jones and Anna Calhoun. The winners are shown with Gaisha Williams, a Chilton County native and Culinard student who demonstrated cooking techniques.

Youth Division (ages 9-19)

•First place: Savannah Swindle, Savannah’s Peach Pecan Pie

•Second place: Ashley Beth Jones, Peach Cheesecake Dessert

•Third place: Anna Calhoun, Peach Praline Pie

Top cooks: Peach Cook-Off Adult Division first- through third-place winners were Elizabeth Hawley, Elizabeth Smith and Sarah Saunders. The winners are shown with Williams.

Top cooks: Peach Cook-Off Adult Division first- through third-place winners were Elizabeth Hawley, Elizabeth Smith and Sarah Saunders. The winners are shown with Williams.

Adult Division (20 and up)

•First place: Elizabeth Hawley, Praline Peach-Cranberry Cake

•Second place: Elizabeth Smith, Peaches and Cream Bread Pudding

•Third place: Sarah Saunders, Peach Upside-Down Cake

First-place prizes were $50 to each of the winners. Second place earned $35, and third place earned $25.

Prize money and T-shirts were donated by the Lions Club.

Hawley said her recipe was an adaptation of an apple cake recipe that called for pecans.

“I thought, ‘What better way to do something a little different than use cranberries,’” Hawley said.

Hawley said she has been experimenting with the cake for about a month.

She was a third-place winner in last year’s Cook-Off, the first one she entered after moving to Chilton County from Arizona.

Swindle, meanwhile, said she entered her peach pecan pie for three consecutive years, winning second place the first time she entered.

“I always wanted to make something with pecans, so I just looked online,” Swindle said.

One slight change was made to the recipe during the three years Swindle has been making the pie: Instead of having the peaches at the bottom, she said she decided to mix them with the rest of the filling.

After the winners were announced, all in attendance enjoyed sampling the dishes that had been entered.

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