Nutrition Students Coordinate Local Cooking Contest

Meredith College nutrition students, junior Brittany Patton and graduate student Christina Holston, helped coordinate a community Throwdown celebrating African American Foodways in the South on November 13, 2010.

Local celebrity judge Mildred "Mama Dip" Council of Mama Dip’s Kitchen in Chapel Hill and Robert Campbell, environmental justice activist and chef, served as judges.

Chrisean Fuller, of Efland-Cheeks and D’Jenna Crayton, of Chapel Hill went competed in the cooking contest that featured innovative twists on traditional vegetable dishes. Fuller took the People’s Choice award, while Crayton was crowned Grand Champion and won a $200 cash prize. Their recipes, Oven Roasted Okra and Spicy Sautéed Collard Greens, were a big hit with the judges.

Meredith’s nutrition students found coordinating the experience to be valuable.

“I plan to pass along these recipes to friends and family,” Holston commented. “As an African American, I am very familiar with the way our culture often overcooks vegetables resulting in the loss of nutrients. As a nutrition student and future educator, I was excited to see the participants change up traditional African American recipes so they were healthier.”

Taste and cultural relevance were other criteria in the competition. “Not only were the finalists' recipes phenomenal, it was great to see how enthusiastic and receptive the audience was to the vegetables,” observed Patton. “I realized that respecting one's food traditions is vital in promoting healthier cooking habits and producing change at the community level.”

The cooking competition was a spin-off of The Efland Food Project, an effort to document traditional African American recipes and foodways at risk for being lost.

The project is directed by Ronni Bowen, former assistant professor of foods & nutrition at Meredith.

“My heart is in the community, and I’m thrilled to be able to connect my former students with these rich cultural food experiences,” said Bowen.

The project is a collaboration between the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the community-based organization United Voices of Efland-Cheeks (UVE). For more information about the Efland Food Project, call (919) 272-5115.

Date Submitted: 2010-11-19

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