Starting tomorrow, three local top-notch chefs will be competing in the annual ℹ️ World Food Championships (WFC) in Orange Beach, Alabama. ℹ️ Rebecca Barron of ℹ️ St. John’s, ℹ️ Hardin Cowan of ℹ️ Solarium Cafe and ℹ️ Nick Thiers of Virginia Culinard Institute will be part of a larger group representing Team Tennessee at the event.
Public Markets, better known as ℹ️ Chattanooga Market, is the WFC licensee for Tennessee—one of 40 states represented this week. Nearly 1,500 cooks will meet at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama for the competition—and a shot at more than $350,000 in cash and prizes, the biggest payout in Food Sport history.
“Teams from more than 40 states and 15 countries will enter one of our ten competition categories to earn their way to a title and a huge TV opportunity,” said Mike McCloud, the CEO and official Commissioner of the event. “The competition will be more intense than ever this year, and ten incredible chefs or home cooks are going to walk away with $10,000 cash!”
This is the second year that Barron will compete in WFC after winning the ℹ️ Cast Iron Cook-off at Chattanooga Market both years, thus qualifying. Thiers is a veteran as well, and was honored to be a category winner in 2016 at WFC. This will be Cowan’s first time to attend in Orange Beach, all three chefs will compete against each other—along with about 75 other national winners—in the “Chef” category. ℹ️ Springer Mountain Farms, a Chattanooga Market sponsor, has sponsored several Tennessee chefs to attend.
Additionally, Chattanooga Market’s Teen Cook-off, held this past June, spawned this year’s creation of a teen segment in the WFC. Chattanoogans Kyle Kilpatrick (18) and Spencer Wagner (16) will represent Team Tennessee for this first-time event. The “Teen Green Challenge” will allow these rising stars to shine in front of rumored judges from the likes of Food Network and Master Chef Stars.
Tennessee residents have always shown great performance and culinary talent. In fact, last year’s World Food Champion (Lisa Gwatney) and World Burger Champion (Tommy Shive) hail from the volunteer state. In addition, Tennessee was one of the first states to enter into a new state partnership agreement with the WFC. The Public Markets partnership helped unify the qualifying process for cooks and chefs trying to earn their way into the world’s largest Food Sport event.
Competitors will cook on-site during the timed events and face the challenge of preparation, speed, specialty recipes, presentation and the ultimate taste test for E.A.T.™ certified judges. The categories include Bacon, Barbecue, Burger, Chef, Chicken, Chili, Dessert, Sandwich, Seafood and Steak. If any of the Tennessee Food Champs advance to the Top Ten round, they will not only have the chance to take home their respective category title but also earn a spot to compete at the Final Table for a chance at the title of World Food Champion and a $100,000 payday.
The following competitors from Tennessee will be battling it out on the world’s largest food stage in these WFC categories:
Chris Freels from Loudon, Tennessee
Shawn Causby from Chattanooga, Tennessee
David Calkins from Nashville, Tennessee
Karen Elliott from Bartlett, Tennessee
2017 World Burger Champ -Tommy Shive from Memphis, Tennessee
Dhanapol Marprasert from Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Hardin Cowan from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Jessica Hammonds from Knoxville, Tennessee
Nick Thiers from Chattanoga, Tennessee
Julia Sullivan from Nashville, Tennessee
Raenel Stelly-Cummings from Hermitage, Tennessee
Rebecca Barron from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Jeremy Donald from Knoxville, Tennessee
Lisa Benoit from Cookeville, Tennessee
Richard Jones from Nashville, Tennessee
Judy Beaudin from Franklin, Tennessee
Mary Lang from Vonore, Tennessee