Huntington, W.Va. - Mountwest Community & Technical College’s Culinary Arts program won the 2013 Cast Iron Throwdown hosted at the Greenbrier on February 2. Lead Chef Isabel Cross and Program Director/Sous Chef Lawrence Perry led a team of three first-year culinary students, Josh Hedrick, Melissa Taylor, and John Strehle, along with community food enthusiasts, Dr. Karen Lowe, Jack Cirillo, Barry Tourigny, Dr. Tim Robarts, and Chris Jones to the win by way of Appalachian foods with an Asian flair.
The AppalAsian cuisine included Asian tea, venison & beet Carpaccio with fennel and Brussels sprouts in a Yuzu dressing; sweet pumpkin soup with sour Moonshine wild mushrooms; year of the snake punch; and shaken buffalo with edamame hash. Last year was Mountwest’s first time competing in the Cast Iron Cook-Off, winning Grand Champion in the open category. Chef Perry said it was an honor to be invited back to the competition’s Throwdown, which brings the three top teams from 2012 together in a head-to-head competition. He admits he felt a lot of pressure to perform well.
“It’s a great feeling to represent our school and our students,” said Perry. “I have worked very hard as Program Director to make the culinary arts program at Mountwest one of the best programs around. Winning competitions, with students who we have educated and trained, makes me believe that the decisions that have been made and the path that we are on is the right one.”
Perry said he really enjoyed competing with a team of dedicated students who are passionate about food and who want to succeed, and he hopes to enter more competitions to continue showcasing Mountwest’s culinary program, instructors and students.
“It’s so exciting to watch my students push themselves and perform under the pressure and scrutiny of the judges, the attendees and of course, myself and Chef Cross,” Perry said. “This was the first competition for two of the students, so they weren’t sure what to expect. You can tell someone what it’s going to be like, but until you hear the countdown to the starting buzzer, you don’t really know what it’s like. We hope to give many more students this experience.”