Alton Brown held up a plastic bag of pink shrimp and screamed “start your engines.” With the mystery ingredient revealed, seven chefs scurried to choose other items for their dishes at the annual Cast Iron Cookoff at the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Market. Brown, in town to promote his sustainable seafood program, was the guest emcee at the 2011 event where chefs cooked up seasonal dishes using cast iron skillets.
Tantalizing aromas soon filled the air as the chefs got to work. Cast iron skillets heated up. Sauces simmered. Ears of corn steamed and tomatoes sautéed.
Daniel Lindley, of St. John’s Restaurant in Chattanooga, claimed victory with his jelly-glazed shrimp, nestled in a bed of quinoa and sweet cherry tomatoes. “It was fun,” he said afterward in his usual understated way. “I love the freedom of cooking. That’s what really matters.”
The Cast Iron Cookoff, sponsored by Lodge Manufacturing in South Pittsburg, Tenn., is one of Chattanooga’s top food festivals. For information about the 2012 event, scheduled for Sept. 23, go to chattanoogamarket.org.
—Story by Nancy Henderson, a freelance writer in Chattanooga, Tenn.