The Lodge Cast Iron Cook-off returns to Chattanooga Market this weekend to grant one top notch chef in the state of Tennessee a golden ticket to the World Food Championships, along with some pretty terrific bragging rights. This week ChattMag introduces each of the chefs competing.
Halloran, not classically trained as a chef, got his start at a restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he was taught the basics of cooking. He continued his culinary education with apprenticeships under other chefs, such as a French butcher in Texas. “He taught me how to use the entire animal,” Halloran says. As a result, he tends to take a more rustic approach to the dishes he prepares at his restaurant and at home, where, he says, his Lodge cast-iron two-burner grill never leaves his stove top. “And my cast-iron skillet is always kept handy for my family’s favorite dishes. Summers wouldn’t be brought to their fullest without the crispy outside and custardy insides of Thai cupcakes made in our Thai cupcake cast-iron pan.
“My dream cast-iron day would start with French toast, hash browns and an over-easy egg, followed by an afternoon of falafel and fried chicken. Then I’d end the day with a rib-eye basted with butter, garlic and fresh thyme with a side of corn bread.”
So he’ll be right at home preparing whatever protein is announced on Cast-Iron Sunday at Chattanooga Market in his cast-iron cookware.
“I enjoy cooking at events like this,” he says. “The interaction with the public makes it an enjoyable event when people can ask questions and learn about different ingredients and cooking techniques.”
And, he adds, the exposure it gives his restaurant is an added plus, bringing in new patrons “who share the values we have at Hummingbird,” he says. “We believe that mornings start with the smell of freshly made bread, while vegetables and stocks simmer in pots. And it continues when we see the genuine smiles from local farmers who deliver fresh produce, whole hogs and lamb, so that at the end of the day, our tables are full of plates as honest as the ingredients. At the Cast-Iron Cook-Off, we get to showcase a local business product, while cooking produce and proteins from local farmers. This is what we do at Hummingbird everyday. Doing it at Chattanooga Market helps people know who we are and what we do.”