‘Best in beef’: Students excel at statewide cook-off
Some of Chilton County’s best cooks can be found in classrooms instead of restaurants most days.
Two local students placed first in their divisions in a statewide beef cook-off competition on April 2.
Lucas Jones, an eighth grader at Jemison High School, placed first in the Junior South Division and also claimed “Best in Beef,” the top overall honor in the cook-off, which is in its 55th year and was held at Carver High School in Montgomery.
Jarrett Price, a junior at Thorsby School, placed first in the Senior North Division.
Forty students involved in a family and consumer science or culinary arts program at their school qualified for the state cook-off by winning a county cook-off.
The Chilton County Beef Cook-Off was held Jan. 22 at Jemison Municipal Complex.
Both Jones and Price credited their success to being involved with family catering businesses since a young age.
Jones said his grandmother owns a catering business, Southern Sweets. His mother, Rachel Rachels, is the director of the child nutrition program for Chilton County schools and also is involved with the catering business.
“I was raised in the kitchen,” Jones said.
Jones cooked honey sriracha beef kabobs for the cook-off. He said he had the idea to mix sriracha sauce with honey from bees kept by his uncle, along with soy sauce.
The dish was plated with peppers, pineapple and mushrooms.
Jones said he was surprised when he heard his name called as the overall winner.
“I saw a lot of good dishes down there, so I wasn’t sure,” he said.
Jones received a $200 prize, and his family consumer science teacher, Gail Mims, received $100 for her classroom.
Price said he also got his start cooking because of a family catering business, this one operated by his mother, Pam Price.
Jarrett Price said the meat for his smoked flank steak with chipotle butter dish was smoked on a smoker designed and built by he and his father.
The meat was smoked with a mix of whiskey wood chips and pecan wood and then seared on a grill.
Price said he tried several variations of the dish before settling on the winner.
“It was a bunch of trial and error,” he said. “I figured the more simple it was, the better.”
Price’s dish also included loaded onions, which were stuffed with hamburger meat and wrapped in bacon.
Price said he is already looking forward to next year’s cook-off—and developing a new dish.
“I’ll try something different every weekend until then,” he said.