Chattanooga Market’s annual Cast Iron Cook Off features our city’s most prominent and rising chefs. It’s a chance to watch live as they create culinary delights for a panel of judges, using fresh ingredients right from the local farmers. Arriving in the morning and armed with their cast iron cookware, serving dishes, but nothing more; the Market provides each chef with a pantry of basic items (salt, sugar, vinegar, etc.), maybe a mystery ingredient or two, and a modest budget so that they may shop the Market for the remaining ingredients they need to prepare their meal. Market patrons watch as the chefs shop, prepare and present a meal that is healthy and fresh, while learning a thing or two to try at home.
During the final phase of the event, the chefs present their dishes to members of the tasting panel for judging. The panel is asked to judge based on appearance, taste, creativity and overall impression. The Cast Iron Chef winner will receive bragging rights, as well as a “golden ticket” to the 2017 World Food Championships in Orange Beach, Alabama this November. Come back daily to see the competing chefs.
Rebecca Barron is the executive chef of Chattanooga’s renowned St. John’s Restaurant and returning winner of Cast Iron Cook Off. Talented in her own right, she’s also had the opportunity to work under the well known Chef Daniel Lindley as chef de cuisine for three years before becoming executive chef three years ago. “I believe that Daniel really helped my career take off,” she says. “I have learned so much from him.”
Before joining St. John’s, Chef Barron worked in many other restaurants and capacities in the Chattanooga area from a pastry chef to sous chef. These restaurants include Table Two Grill, The Walden Club, and Hiroshi’s Sushi.
This will be the third year that Chef Barron competes in the Cast Iron Cook Off. She also competed in the Five-Star Food Fight in 2014. “I am very excited about the upcoming Cast Iron Cook off. Each year I try to just focus on what I want to make during the weeks leading up to the event.”
She also participates in the Tennessee Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood dinner event, an underlying theme each year at the cook off – that of teaching to cook with sustainable seafood. She prepares an intimate, elegant seafood dinner, served in an Aquarium gallery. “It’s always a really fun event for us, getting to cook inside the aquarium. And it helps educate folks on sustainable seafood.”
This story was originally published on chattmag.com.