In France, the term appellation d'origine contrôlée, which is often seen on bottles of wine, translates to “appellation of controlled origin,” and today the term is sometimes applied to agricultural and dairy products, as well as to wine.
Well, something similar is going on in West Virginia. At the recent 2009 Cast Iron Cook-Off, sponsored by The Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia, 14 competing teams of chefs prepared recipes using products and cookware indigenous to the region. Each team included a chef, nonprofessional members who each paid $300 to assist their chef (with proceeds going to The Collaborative) and an invited media member. The Collaborative promotes culinary and cultural tourism, including indigenous ingredients and traditional cookware.
Held at the Charleston Marriott Town Center, January 23-25, participating West Virginia chefs and their teams included: Chef Paco Aceves, Bridge Road Bistro; Chef Lisa Daniels, Greenbrier App Program; Chef Will Greenwood, Glade Springs Resort; Chef Anne Hart, Provence Market; Chef Shawn Huffman, Smokey's on the Gorge; Guest Chef Michael Martir, Stonewall Resort; Chef Ben Mulé, Blennerhassett Hotel, Spats Restaurant; Chef Nemat Odeh, Canaan Valley Resort; Chef Frank Paris, Greenbrier Sporting Club; Chef Loren Schrader, Whitewater Grille/Charleston Marriott; Chef Caleb Taylor, Pierpont CTC; Chef Eli Urbanic, Cafe Cimino; and Chef Brentford Young, Berry Hills Country Club.
Judging panel members were celebrity judge Lee Ann Wong of Bravo “Top Chef”; Brian Ball, executive chef of Ember Restaurant, Snowshoe; Elaine Bowen, West Virginia University; Jeremy Critchfield, executive chef, Nemocolin Woodlands Resort; Lee Jones, Chef's Garden, Inc., Huron, OH; Jay Mahoney, Culinary Institute at Pierpont Community and Technical College; and Rod Stoner, winner of WV Tourism Lifetime Achievement Award. Specialty Judge Gus Douglass, Agriculture Commissioner, chose winners in the “Best Use of Appalachian Products” categories.
Rhubarb Dessert with Vanilla Aroma
From: Chef Anne Hart, Provence Market, Bridgeport, WV. Yield: 4 servings.
24 rhubarb stalks
½ cup honey
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean, split
dash of maraschino cherry juice
½ tsp. lemon zest
sprig of mint, large mince
4 chunks crystallized ginger, sliced
8 wonton papers
2 dried vanilla beans
Simmer honey, sugar, water and vanilla bean in small cast iron skillet. Poach rhubarb stalks until tender. Remove stalks from liquid; drain in strainer over bowl. Reduce rhubarb liquor. At time of service add mint, lemon zest, cherry juice and ginger. Toss lightly to incorporate. Place rhubarb into martini glasses and drizzle with rhubarb reduction. Fry wontons until crisp; drain on paper towels.
To plate: Place martini glass on black square plate. Place river rocks to cover plate bottom and glass base. Place wonton chips in rhubarb. Garnish with mint; light the dried vanilla beans to release aroma.
To see a video of this event on Channel RH - Appalachian Regional Cuisine.
Overall Grand Champion: Greenbrier Sporting Club
Best Overall Menu: Greenbrier Sporting Club
Best Teamwork: Provence Market
Most Creative Course: Provence Market
Most Creative Single Course Presentation: Provence Market
Best 21st Century Interpretation of Traditional Appalachian Cuisine: Berry Hills Country Club
Best Use of Cast Iron: Provence Market
“Whistle While You Work” Award: Cafe Cimino
People's Choice: Berry Hills Country Club