The competition winners are:
“Blondie's Sweet Potato Pie” by Latrice Catering & Design
1st Place - “Sweet Potato Pie Cheesecake” by Sondra Strong
2nd Place — “Santa Say Pie” by Cathi Compton
1st Place — “Sassy Sweet Potato Pie w/ Bourbon Pecans” by Sweet Love
2nd Place - “Blondie's Sweet Potato Pie” by Latrice Catering & Design
Kelli Marks, of Sweet Love Bakery, grew up in Sheridan, Arkansas and learned to cook from her grandmother. "I was probably the only ten-year-old to win a grand champion ribbon for canning green beans at the Grant County Fair," she said. The secret to her winning pie is bourbon. It's saturated in it. But the crust is also nontraditional. Instead of just cutting flour with butter, she mixes ground pecans, oatmeal, sugar and spices. The from-scratch filling is topped with a layer of candied, bourbon pecans.
"In my personal approach to baking, I've found that people here have a certain kind of palate. We're not New York City. We don't have super-sophisticated tastes. Usually I just take something familiar and tweak it," said Marks. Her Sassy Sweet Potato Pie is available via custom order. Closer to the holidays, she expects to sell by-the-slice in her shop, as well.
On Saturday, the Food Network's "The Great Food Truck Race" filmed at the Fayetteville Farmers Market. "The Great Food Truck Race" is a reality show in which real food truck operators drive from coast to coast, peddling their wares in a new city each week. Each week the truck with the lowest sales is eliminated, until, at the end of the season, a single truck remains. The earliest the Fayetteville episode could air is August 19.
Some locals have pointed out the irony of inviting guest food trucks into a city where local food trucks have had such struggles. Alex Dickey (Me So Hungry in the Flyer comments) operated a food trailer called Hog Brats from Sept. 2010 till May 2011. He said the city's mobile food vendor ordinance was vague and only permitted push-cart sized operations on sidewalks. His trailer was significantly bigger, and it took him two years to secure an operating permit. Dickey, 25 and a Fayetteville transplant, termed the planning board a "crony system...with everyone allied to the brick and mortar restaurants who have high overhead and were scared of losing business." According to current ordinance, mobile food vendors in a truck or large trailer must park on private property and have to relocate every 90 days. There are also stricter rules concerning for-profit and not-for-profit vendors. For-profit vendors must cook in an enclosed environment, a requirement that is waived for non-profit vendors. Eventually Dickey gave up on trying to figure out the mobile food scene in Fayetteville. He moved to Dallas and began catering.
Jeremy Tate in the Fayetteville planning department said that the food truck ordinance is currently undergoing revisions to streamline the permit process. The new procedures should be in place sometime this summer. According to Tate, there are three different types of variance permits vendors may apply for. Sidewalk vendors (mostly pushcarts) are the highest regulated. If they apply for one of about a dozen spots already vetted by the city council, the permit could take a couple of weeks. If they want to have a new spot approved, it takes about a month and a half. Sidewalk vendors have to vacate between 2 and 6 a.m., but otherwise, they can stay in the same location year-round. They can be up to seven feet long and four feet wide — a change Dickey said he fought for, since when he first applied for a permit, the carts were limited to five feet long, three feet wide. The Great Food Truck Race vendors applied for event permits, which were essentially turned around in 24 hours. These are short-term permits that allow vendors temporary access to a public space.
Tate estimates that there are about a handful of food trucks and about two or three pushcarts working in Fayetteville currently, although there are about a dozen active permits. And if you're interested in sampling the wares of the Great Food Race contenders, a few of them are still around town.
This Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Hot Springs Convention Center will host an American Culinary Federation-sanctioned competition. Chefs from restaurants in Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee and students from Pulaski Tech and Ozarka College culinary programs will compete, "Iron-Chef" style, for $8,000 in scholarships and prizes. Contestants will be given 15 minutes to prep and 60 minutes to cook a duck, using any method they wish. They'll have 10 minutes to plate four servings and another 15 minutes to clean up, completely. Student contestants include Bree Robinson, Parinya Kaewjuntawee, Patrick Kelley and Kevin Mueller. Other contestants include Robert Hall, Executive Chef at Winrock International, Miles McMath, Executive Chef at St. Jude in Memphis, Ernest Dickson, Sous Chef at St. Jude, Coby Smith, Executive Chef at Chenal Foxridge and Cynthia Malik, lead instructor at Pulaski Tech.
The judges will be Patrick Mitchell, Executive Chef at Ben E. Keith Foods, Texas; Robert Meitzer, Executive Chef at Red Rocks Country Club in Colorado; and Larry Matson, culinary director at The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Dallas.
The competition is free to the public.
What would be considered Arkansas regional? SPAM cheese dip? SPAM fried pies? SPAM and chocolate gravy? I got it — a SPAM Reuben. The mind wanders. You have been SPAMmed.
Have a good beef recipe that only involves five or six ingredients? How 'bout one that you cook in a toaster oven?
If the answer yes, the Arkansas CattleWomen Association wants to give you $2,500 in cash in prizes at the Arkansas Beef Cook-off, which'll be held in Conway on Feb. 26.
Details on the jump or download this PDF.
They've just started cooking it up in the Heights, on Kavanaugh between N. Grant and N. Taylor. There'll be chili to taste starting at 4 p.m. Tasting kits run $2 and all proceeds benefit the Arkansas Foodbank. The awards ceremony is scheduled for 5:45 p.m.
The football game will be on several big screens.
The Times has a team. Come by and say hi.
I also picked up food to go at A.W. Lins today for dinner and a…
We made an agreement, I'm stealing one of Roberts' favorites next week.
I thought Walker only got to write about Mylo.
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