Residents take part in Country Roads Cook-Off

BUCKHANNON -Healthy recipes were the theme of this year’s Country Roads Cook-Off in Buckhannon.

Of the seven teams that showed up, only three teams participated. Each participating team was tasked with creating a healthy dish, appetizer, dessert, entree, salad or side dish for a panel of three judges and any one else who wanted to grab a bite Friday during Festival Fridays at Jawbone Park. The cook-off sponsorship was a collaboration between Festival Fridays and Create Buckhannon.

The contestants were asked to make a healthy regional recipe interpretation that would be judged. Each team member was to be given t-shirts and a cast iron skillet, according to the initial press release. Plaque prizes were awarded for the top three recipes. Each dish was judged on its flavor, use of local ingredients and it’s “innovative interpretation,” according to the list of rules given to all the contestants.

The team chosen by the judges made a salad composed of weeds that could be found in any West Virginia backyard, including purple dandelions. Betty Cowger and Niki Wilson dressed their salad in Dijon mustard.

“When I read the rules this year, it said it needs to be made from local ingredients,” Cowger said, adding that it also had to be a healthy recipe. “I said ‘what’s more healthy than a salad?’ and I just took what was in the backyard.”

Second place and people’s choice was awarded to “The Hunger Dames,” for a vegan and gluten free lentil chili recipe. Third place went to the Buckhannon-Upshur High School ProStart program who made a chicken hot dog with homemade cole slaw and chili.

Both ProStart cooks, soon-to-be high school seniors Stephanie Hawkins and Valerie Wood, aspire to join a culinary career.

“I’ve been wanting to do culinary arts since third grade,” Hawkins said, adding that she wanted to get into the culinary arts after helping her mom cook one day.

Wood said she has wanted to go into the culinary arts for as long as she can remember.

“I just really love to do it,” Wood said. “It’s really fun.”

ProStart teacher Carol Meese said the girls both helped with food at a school event and told her that “It was very rewarding to watch other peoples’ reactions and enjoy what you make.”