Iron Skillet Chefs

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 11, 2008

The challenge: create an appetizing and original recipe for one of the South&8217;s staple dishes. The secret element: cornbread.

With these two things in mind TyAnne Stone and Carl Sudduth of Livingston will face off in this year&8217;s Sucarnochee Folklife Festival Cornbread Cook-off. In last year&8217;s event, the pair took top honors in the traditional recipe and specialty recipe categories.

Although they both carry the title of iron skillet chef now, their friendly competition started as a means to get some interest in the newest addition to the festival. Both Stone and Sudduth are active members in the University of Alabama community and saw their entry as a way to show support for the young event.

As for her showing in the traditional recipe category, Stone said it was a &8220;fluke;&8221; nonetheless, her cornbread muffins impressed the judges. The recipe itself was from a friend of hers, hence its name Mrs. Mary Ward&8217;s Cornbread Muffins.

As for the debate between muffins and skillet cornbread, Stone said she prefers muffins to the square version. She also said one of the essential elements to her winning recipe is the use of creamed corn, an ingredient that keeps the muffins moist and flavorful.

Another essential debate among cornbread connoisseurs &8212; whether or not to use sugar &8212; is settled in Stone&8217;s recipe. It calls for just a bit of sugar to offset the cornmeal flavor.

Sudduth, who is known to many in the community in his role as a city councilman, said he doesn&8217;t consider himself to be a chef.

But this didn&8217;t stop him from coming up with two recipes for the Best Specialty Cornbread category, one of which &8212; Corn Dog Muffins &8212; took away first place.

His strategy for coming up with the champion recipe was to research recipes he liked, test them out and &8220;doctor up&8221; one to his liking. The results are a non-traditional take on cornbread muffins.

The special ingredient &8212; hot dogs &8212; is what makes the muffins unique. Sudduth said the secret to the recipe is using a special brand of all-beef franks from New York. He also boils his hot dogs before mixing them with the other cornbread ingredients.

The cook-off itself, which was only recently added to the festival&8217;s roster, is meant as a way to show off one of the essential culinary additions from folk life.

For this year&8217;s festival, Sudduth said he plans to enter again, and also branching out into the cornbread as a main ingredient category. Stone, too, hopes to try her luck with a different recipe in the traditional category.

The fifth annual Cornbread Cook-off has three categories: Best Traditional Cornbread, Best Specialty Cornbread and Best Original Main Dish Recipe Using Cornbread. According to the contest guidelines, all recipes must be prepared with at least one cup of corn meal or one package of cornbread mix. The entries are then judged on taste, creativity and appetizing appearance. The contest will be at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 19.

For more information on the cook-off or the

festival call 205-3752 or visit

www.centerforblackbelt.org.