Cook-Off produces good eats

The 48 dishes on display at Shelby County Schools’ 11th Annual Family, Career and Community Leaders of America Cook-Off were too beautiful to devour, but the sights and smells proved too irresistible for judges and foodies alike.

Shelby County High School’s family consumer sciences department hosted the Nov. 25 event designed to expand the culinary horizons of youth. Students competed in five categories — senior beef, junior beef, poultry, pork and dairy.

The menu ranged from Meat Loaf Wellington and Balsamic Beef and Zucchini Pasta to White Chocolate Parfaits and an Éclair Torte.

“This is something the students look forward to and the judges look forward to,” said Rene Day, the schools’ career and technical program supervisor. “We may have a future Emeril, Rachael Ray or Bobby Flay right here.”

Twelve judges marveled at the plating and presentation of each dish before sampling. Stancil Handley, president of the Shelby County Cattlemen’s Association, judged the beef categories, and was thoroughly impressed by the students’ creativity.

“I’m overwhelmed by the number of tasty beef dishes and the number of ways it’s prepared,” Handley said. “As cattlemen we try to get folks to see there’s more to beef than just steak.”

Fellow judge Georgiann Farrington, owner of It’s A Perfect Party in Columbiana, recorded her scores on a clipboard while carefully surveying the dishes. Each judge based scores on taste, presentation and originality. For Farrington, judging was a flattering and mouth-watering undertaking.

“This is awesome,” Farrington said. “The opportunity for our kids to do this and go into the culinary field is great.”

While the judges tallied the scores, students filed in to the tasting area to sample the competition. Tyler Culberson, 16, a sophomore at Oak Mountain High School, immediately observed there was nothing left of his dairy entry, Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Sauce.

Culberson, who plans to attend culinary school at the Art Institute of Atlanta, entered three dishes in the cook-off. His Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake took second place in the dairy category.

Culberson’s pork dish, French Fried Onion Pork Chops with Cherry-Apple Chutney, took first place, and his poultry dish, Grilled Bruschetta Chicken, earned an honorable mention.

When asked whether he’ll compete in next year’s cook-off, Culberson smiled and said, “Definitely.”

11th Annual FCCLA Cook-Off Results

Senior Beef

1st Place: Kasey Bearden, Shelby County High

2nd Place: Rachel Powers, Oak Mountain High

3rd Place: John Jordan, School of Technology

Junior Beef

1st Place: Justin Goodwin, Helena Middle

2nd Place: Molly Vines, Oak Mountain Middle

3rd Place: Madison Fancher, Montevallo Middle

Poultry

1st Place: Gracie Hobbs, Oak Mountain Middle

2nd Place: Emily Colley, Montevallo Middle

3rd Place: DeAngelo Gunn, School of Technology

Pork

1st Place: Tyler Culberson, Oak Mountain High

2nd Place: John Wagner, Montevallo Middle

3rd Place: Damian Trice, Shelby County High

Dairy

1st Place: Karen Welch, Calera High

2nd Place: Tyler Culberson, Oak Mountain High

3rd Place: Kaley Kornegay, Montevallo Middle