A sizzling hot food competition is just what Chattanooga Market is serving up. The Lodge Cast Iron Cook-off returns, where 5 regional chefs will shop for local ingredients at the Market and then prepare a unique dish in hopes of earning high marks with the judges at the competition. One competing chef has been training for years—meet Nick Thiers.
Nick Thiers, a culinary instructor at Virginia College, says exposure to cooking competitions is an important part of a student’s culinary eduction.
“I love for my students to see me out and at a cooking competition,” he says. “I want to inspire them everyday to keep them growing and stress the importance of community involvement.”
Thiers’ has a passion for competition. As a member of the American Culinary Federation, he enters as many food-related competitions as possible, including ones that put his carving skills to the test—and we’re not talking turkey. One of his favorite skills is carving and sculpting fruits and vegetables. In 2016, he won his category at the World Food Championships in Orange Beach.
Thiers hold two degrees from Le Cordon Bleu—an associate’s degree in the culinary arts and a bachelors in culinary management—plus more than 20 culinary certifications, and says his favorite regional cuisines are those found in Latin-America. “And cast-iron really brings out the spices. I can sear meats, make sauces and even braise them in the deep cast-iron skillets,” he says, adding that cast-iron is perfect for more than even heating and its ability to produce a good-looking piece of meat. It’s also eye-catching and makes for a great presentation on the table, he says.
Will this love of cast-iron produce a win for this teacher chef?
“I live for competitions like this,” he says. “I compete throughout the year. It really helps push a chef’s skills and makes them stay on their game.”